Why did Egypt lose half of its olive production?

Cairo The olive crop in Egypt joined the agricultural crops, whose production decreased sharply, and their quality surprisingly declined, similar to the mango crop last summer, which disappointed both farmers and consumers.

With the end of the olive harvest season in November, the extent of the severe damage to the crop is revealed, but the largest proportion of the loss fell to farmers, who suffered heavy losses.

The decline and weakness of production was reflected in the prices of table olives (pickled) of various types, and olive oil in the market, at rates exceeding 25%, amid expectations of an increase in them again, and warnings against expanding olive oil fraud to take advantage of its high prices.

Over the past four decades, olive cultivation has witnessed a great expansion and development, making Egypt at the top of the list of olive-producing countries in the world, during the 2019-2020 season, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture.

The Ministry of Agriculture confirmed in February 2020 that Egypt ranked first in the world in the production of table olives, according to the official report issued by the International Olive Council (IOC) on the global production of table olives in the 2019-2020 season.

The Egyptian Minister of Agriculture, El-Sayed El-Qusair, attributed the reason to the initiative launched by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in 2015 to plant 100 million olive trees, in addition to the constructive cooperation between his ministry, the Egyptian Olive Council, and also the International Olive Council, which Egypt chaired during the 2019-2020 session.

At the time, the report expected that Egypt would take the lead from Spain with a crop of 690,000 tons of olives, compared to 497 thousand tons in the 2018-2019 season, while Spain would fall to second place with 500,000 tons, compared to 580,000 tons.

The area planted with olives in Egypt jumped from 5,000 acres at the end of the 1970s to more than 100,000 acres at the end of the 1990s, and rose in 2000 to about 108,000 acres and exceeded more than 240,000 acres in 2019, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Egypt ranked first in the world in the production of table olives (Al-Jazeera)

The collapse of the olive season

The losses of the olive crop for this season have exceeded 50%, according to some estimates, and 25% at least. Ahmed Youssef, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture in Matrouh, said – in an intervention on Egyptian TV – that “climate changes have led to a decrease in the olive yield in the governorate by 25% compared to previous years.”

This great loss was expected, but it could not be avoided, according to the head of the Farmers’ Syndicate, Hussein Abu Saddam; Because it is related to the climatic changes that occurred last March and April, as olives need lower temperatures during the flowering season and decade; But what happened is that the temperature was high, so production was weak.

He described – in statements to Al-Jazeera Net – what happened to the olive crop as a painful blow to the farms, pointing out that there are some farms that produced only 25% of their energy, and others produced 50% at best, which led to farmers’ exposure to great losses.

In an unprecedented change in crops, Abu Saddam pointed out that many crops – not only olives and mangoes – have been severely damaged due to weather fluctuations and climate change during the past year and this year, which is a dangerous indicator of the future of agriculture in Egypt and its food basket.

And because olives are not a strategic crop, the farmers most affected by the poor production are the farmer, not the consumer, who can dispense with table olives or olive oil if their price rises, but where is the government’s role in supporting the farmer?

The government does not support the farmer in such cases, according to the Farmers Syndicate, as happened in many previous crops that were affected by climate change, despite previous demands to establish an agricultural solidarity fund to compensate farmers in such circumstances.

Dealers and sellers said – in various statements to Al Jazeera Net – that they are facing problems in buying olives and its oil, and other problems in selling it as a result of the high prices in rates ranging between 25 and 50 percent, depending on the quality and quality.

The price of a liter of olive oil increased between 120 and 150 pounds per liter, compared to about 80 and 120 pounds per liter last year, and the price of table olives (pickled) in general increased by more than 25%, from popular to luxurious. (A dollar = 15.7 pounds).

They warned against increasing fraud, specifically in olive oil; Because of its high price, and the ease of mixing it with any other oil while preserving its viscosity, color and taste to a close extent to the original oil, it is not preferable to buy cheap oil because the possibility of cheating in it is greater.

One of the largest olive producers... Why did Egypt lose half of its olive production?The price of a liter of olive oil in Egypt increased between 120 and 150 pounds per liter, compared to about 80 and 120 pounds per liter last year 2020 (Al-Jazeera)

Climate change and direct impact

In the context of his comment, Dr. Ali Qutb – Professor of Climate at Zagazig University and former Vice-President of the Meteorological Authority – said that global warming was the main element that the World Meteorological Organization pointed to because of its direct impact on the rest of the climate elements and the weather phenomena accompanying it.

Adding to Al-Jazeera Net, it has been observed – since the industrial revolution in the middle of the 19th century until now – that the average temperature has risen two degrees above normal rates, and this affected all elements and weather phenomena such as rain, dust, storms and hurricanes, which in turn was reflected on all economic activities.

Qutb warned of the climatic effects on agriculture in general, pointing out that high or low temperatures, an increase in wind speed during the transitional seasons, and the scarcity of rain in some areas and its abundance in others, all these elements do not serve agriculture, but rather harm it severely and affect the productivity and diversity of crops.

Last week, Egypt launched the National Climate Change Strategy 2050, as part of its participation in the activities of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.

During his speech at the summit, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said – a week ago – that the preparation of this national strategy aims to modernize Egypt for the nationally determined contribution so that the policies, objectives and procedures are complementary to the state’s development efforts.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a shocking warning during his speech at the World Climate Summit, in which he said, “Get ready for the separation of your loved ones,” warning of the disappearance of 3 cities around the world, including Alexandria (the second largest Egyptian city), in the event that no measures are taken to prevent the disease. High temperatures on the Earth’s surface.

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