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The first effort involves increasing raised bed cultivation of wheat using high yielding varieties. Doing so, according to the FAS, leads to increased water use efficiency and high crop intensification rates.
The FAS identified four advantages of raised bed wheat cultivation: increased average yields; improved water use efficiency; reduced use of certified seed; and maximization of the plant’s fertilizer intake during the different growth phases.
“Raised bed cultivation has about tripled from 113,500 hectares in (marketing year) 2013-14 to 334,000 hectares in (marketing year) 2016-17 across the four major governorates planting wheat: Sharqia, Beheira, Kafr El Sheikh and Dakahlia,” the FAS said. “MALR is determined to increase wheat areas using this cultivation method with a goal of expanding acreage for this production to 840,000 hectares over the next three years.”
A second vertical expansion effort under way by the MALR is to increase the amount of certified seed distributed to farmers from high yielding wheat varieties. The FAS said the Central Administration of Seed Production (CASP) of MALR is able to supply farmers with 50% of their certified wheat seed needs from 28 varieties, but the agency has set a goal to meet up to 70% of farmers’ needs over the next two years.
The final vertical expansion effort that MALR is focused on is working toward the implementation of the annual wheat campaign, raising farmer awareness about newly released high yielding varieties along with related agronomic practices.
“The most significant challenge to MALR’s efforts in raising production per unit area is the tremendous increase in violations on the arable lands of the Nile Delta because of the extended urbanization and construction on these fertile grounds,” the FAS noted. “It is estimated that since 2011 more than 125,000 hectares of productive agricultural lands were transformed to cement structures. When urbanization takes place, externalities such as decreased water availability and drainage tend to affect yields in adjacent fields.”