Egypt has been working on the development of its agricultural sector and associated industries. This comes as Egyptian agricultural and food products contribute to the country’s exports and play a role in its food security. Therefore, developing and establishing agricultural food (agri-food) industrial projects empowers the country to achieve food-related economic growth.

Improving Food Security

Egypt's current population reached about 105.88 million on January 7th, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). Therefore, Egypt is one of the most populous countries in North Africa and the Arab world. The country faces significant challenges in meeting its food demands; poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, and reliance on global markets for some of its food demands are among these challenges.

Accordingly, the country is exerting efforts to ensure food security and attract investment to not only the agricultural sector but also to agricultural food-related industries. Hence, before the end of 2023, Egypt witnessed the signing of a contract to establish the largest agri-food industrial complex in the Middle East.

This comes as Ahmed Abou Hashima, the founder of MAFI Agricultural Produce Industries (MAFI), unveiled plans for a massive agri-food industrial complex in Sadat City, Egypt. With a total investment of $300 million, this complex is set to become a beacon of innovation and productivity. The complex comprises five state-of-the-art plants, including two of Egypt's largest plants dedicated to the production of orange and various fruit products, as well as the first-of-its-kind cloudy product plant in the Middle East.

Ihab El-Gamal, a holder of PhD in Economics and Public Finance and an economic researcher, tells Arab Finance: "The new agricultural food industries complex in Sadat City enhances Egypt's food security by diversifying production, ensuring a stable supply of agricultural products, and reducing dependence on imports. It strengthens the resilience of the food supply chain, contributing to the overall stability of the nation's food resources."

Economically Promising

Egypt has been aiming to boost the economic value of agricultural food products as their agricultural food industries’ products are among the important agricultural exports from the country. Egypt’s food industry exports grew by 15% during the first 10 months of 2023, reaching $4.3 billion, compared to $3.8 billion in 2022, according to statements made by Hani Berzi, Chairman of the Food Export Council (FEC), during the Food Africa Expo held in December 2023.

Agri-food complexes also have an impact on employment. Nirmeen El Sayyad, UN Women Project Manager at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and an economic expert, tells Arab Finance: “The food industry complexes tend to work on a mass production basis, which maintains and guarantees competitive prices and better-quality control. The impact of such mega projects will be reflected in a higher level of employment in the project’s location, better income generation, and therefore development.”

By establishing agri-food industrial projects and complexes, Egypt’s exports of agri-food industrial products can further grow. This comes as the Sadat City complex will produce more than 100,000 tons of agricultural food products annually in the first phase, using the latest global agricultural food industry technologies in cooperation with major international companies working in this field, Abou Hashima pointed out. Meanwhile, encouraging agri-food industrial complexes can provide a lot of job opportunities as they need a talented workforce.

Developing and establishing agri-food industrial projects can boost the country’s exports and reduce imports. This comes as Egypt is qualified to become a regional center for agricultural manufacturing in general and food industries in particular, given the strengths of the Egyptian market as one of the largest markets in the region, as well as the Egyptian agricultural sector’s abundant production, especially in vegetables and fruits, Yousry Ahmed, an economist at the Egyptian Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC), stated during the 15th session held by IDSC in September 2023.

Meanwhile, El-Gamal explains that having agri-food complexes “enhances Egypt's food security by diversifying production, ensuring a stable supply of agricultural products, and reducing dependence on imports. It strengthens the resilience of the food supply chain, contributing to the overall stability of the nation's food resources."

To attract more investments into agri-food industrial projects, Egypt can work on developing the relevant sectors to ensure the best outcomes. El-Gamal highlights that in order to "optimize outcomes, the focus should be placed on infrastructure development, technological advancements, and fostering collaboration between local and international companies. Additionally, continuous investment in research and development will contribute to sustained growth.”

El Sayyad agrees, stating that "to establish efficient industrial complexes, it is best to furnish them with effective transportation and logistics services. The ease of provisioning inputs needed in the production cycle will be vital. Easy access for labor to the complex is also important."

The country is encouraging different types of agri-food industrial production, including dairy production. In September 2023, Duaa Salima, Executive Director of the Industrial Modernization Center (IMC) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, stated that the IMC works to overcome the obstacles facing the dairy industry by monitoring the needs of manufacturers and linking them to the latest developments in scientific research in that field, as part of ongoing efforts to establish a complex for the dairy products industry in Damietta.

As a result, the establishment of agri-food industrial complexes has an impact on the Egyptian economy by providing job opportunities and boosting export value. Moreover, these complexes ensure the availability of locally needed manufactured food products in order to meet local market demands.


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