CAIRO, EGYPT — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) held two workshops on grain market data availability and quality in Egypt and supply chain efficiency and national food security, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade, other government agencies, the Egyptian Grain Suppliers Association and other private sector representatives.

The discussions during the first workshop focused on reviewing the methodologies used to collect, prepare and validate Egyptian official estimates on areas planted and harvested, yields, consumption, trade and stocks of grains and oilseeds.

During the July 17-18 workshops held in Cairo, Egypt, the Economic Affairs Sector of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, the General Organization for Export and Import Control, The Egyptian Holding Company for Silos and Storage, and the Chamber of Cereal Industry participated in the discussions. Representatives from grain importing, processing, and handling companies provided feedback on the official data and discussed its availability and quality.

The second workshop focused on identifying obstacles facing grain and oilseed imports to enable a more efficient supply chain that will ensure the availability of strategic commodities and reduce the cost of grain imports in the future.

Governmental and private sector representatives attended the workshop, including the Egyptian Organization for Standardization and Quality, the General Organization for Export and Import Control, the Central Department of Quarantine, the General Administration of Food Control in the grain sector of the Ministry of Health and the National Food Safety Authority.

“These workshops represent a huge leap in the development of supply chains of the grain sector in Egypt, and the development of consolidated methodologies used to collect and validate available data,” said Hussein Gadain, FAO representative in Egypt, in his opening speech. “This is especially important since Egypt is one of the largest grain importers in the world, considering total imports of wheat, maize and oilseeds last year amounted to more than 24 million tons. Imports are expected to rise due to the population increase and the limited arable land and water resources.”

grain transportation
Shaaban Ali Salem, director of the Agriculture Economics Research Institute, in his speech delivered on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, added, “Collecting high quality data on grains requires focusing on a certain number of pillars, the most important of which is the institutions responsible for producing statistical data and information related to the grain sector along the grain value chain in Egypt. One should also focus on the available types of statistics and data base structures, the possible methods of collecting, analyzing and presenting these data, as well as the problems of limited available statistics in the possible development areas.”

The Egyptian government continues to develop policies to improve food supply chains.

“The government of Egypt is currently seeking to develop policies and programs to improve the efficiency of food supply chains in order to build a storage model, which can provide grain in times of emergency and crisis, and protection against global price fluctuations,” said Nomaani Nasr Nomani, adviser to the Minister of Supply and Internal Trade for GASC Affairs. “Another type of storage is the operational storage, which prevents loss of time during grain handling within the supply chain.”

According to the FAO and the EBRD, Egypt is likely to remain the world’s biggest importer of foreign-grown grains for the foreseeable future given the limits to arable land and water supplies. Determined action to improve Egypt’s food security and wheat supplies is therefore vital.

The private sector can help improve the sustainability of grain imports in the country by contributing their know-how and financial backing.

“Since 2014, EBRD has supported public-private dialogue in Egypt recognizing the importance of the grain sector and its role in achieving food security,” said Reem El Saady, principal manager, Advice for Small Business Program at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). “This support aims to improve supply chain efficiency, increase private sector participation, and further develop the investment climate. The availability of validated data on the grain sector will enable a more efficient supply chain.”

The joint FAO-EBRD project, “Public-private dialogue in the Egyptian Grain Sector” contributes to implementing the objectives of the FAO to support an efficient network for food production and foster Egypt’s national food security strategy by helping eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.