The Egyptian sweet potato season usually begins in late July and ends in February every year, so the end of the current season is close. According to Reda Ezz, founder of Egyptian produce exporter All Fresh Egypt, the season has been affected by the repercussions of Covid 19 throughout the season. “The farmer, the exporter and the importer have been waiting for the market conditions in Europe to improve and the cost of farming and the cost of exporting, from packing materials and crazy shipping prices, to decrease, for better selling prices, but this was not achieved in a lot of cases.”
Ezz states that the costs of cultivating sweet potatoes is causing problems for farmers, who seem to be decreasing production for the next season. “Agriculture, shipping prices and packaging materials have become almost impossible with the prices of selling the product abroad. With the start of preparing the land for cultivation for the next season, which will be harvested in late July, many small farmers are dropping part of the production due to the high costs of agriculture at the moment - think of aspects like manpower, agricultural pesticides and agricultural fertilizers. At the same time, big farmers have reduced the cultivated area to about 30% for the same reason.”
On top of the challenges of the season, overall export volumes are also lower than they were last year, Ezz explains: “One of the positive aspects that the Egyptian potato has witnessed in recent years, is the cultivation of new varieties. This includes Bellevue and Evangeline, which, next to Beaugardt, are requested from European markets. These varieties have proven their success in Egyptian conditions and on the Egyptian land. Egypt has exported about 113 thousand tons of sweet potatoes so far this season, and this number has been reduced by 30% compared to last year, due to the inflation and recession that dominated the European and English markets.”
“As a company, All Fresh Growers exported 8000 tons last year, between first and second grade for manufacturing, and this year the quantity has decreased to 5000 tons, for the reasons mentioned above. This will negatively affect the provision of the product in the coming years. We all hope that conditions will return to normal so that the farmer can plant and the exporter export and the importer can sell without losses, so no one will have to bear these difficulties for a longer period than is necessary,” Ezz concludes.
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All Fresh Growers