Agriculture Minister Abdel Moneim al-Banna said Sunday that the overall area cultivated with cotton in Egypt decreased to 129 thousand feddans in 2016, the lowest amount since the era of Mohamed Ali Pasha, but pointed out that the ministry succeeded this year in cultivating 220 thousand feddans.
Banna told al-Masry al-Youm ahead of his visit to Fayoum to witness the start of cotton harvest season on Saturday that the harvest season started early this year.
He pointed out that the area cultivated with cotton across the country has seen a significant increase since last season, saying that the area cultivated this year include 62 thousand feddans planted with cotton for reproduction. Banna added that this will contribute to the implementation of the ministry’s plan to increase the cultivated area to 350 thousand acres next season.
Banna said that there are instructions from the political leadership in Egypt and the current government to promote Egyptian cotton and to encourage farmers to grow it, to increase the cultivated areas, and for the country to return to its throne and its reputation internationally as a leading producer of the crop.
He added that the names of cotton farmers whose productivity exceeds 10 qantars per feddan are being registered so that can be honored and rewarded to encourage them to increase their productivity and improve the crops.
Egypt’s cotton output has been declining for the past decade after farmers failed to adapt to shifting consumer demand for mass-produced items made from short- or medium-staple fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The decline has become a full-fledged crisis in recent years after the government removed cash subsidies, and many farmers replaced cotton acreage with rice, the USDA said.