Ag Markets Look to the Land of the Pharaohs
September 26, 2019
Egypt has been a driving force in the world ag economy since the dawn of civilization. For centuries, it was one of the region’s most important producers. Though surrounded by desert, the Nile River valley boasts some of the most fertile agricultural land on the planet. The ancient Romans depended on a steady supply of wheat imported from Egypt in order to feed its citizenry.
Today, the situation is somewhat reversed. Large-scale agricultural production continues in Egypt, with cotton, grain, fruits, and vegetables all being important components of the country’s ag commodity mixture. However, although wheat production is still considerable, it can no longer keep up with domestic demand, thanks to a population of over 97 million and per capita bread consumption that ranks among the highest in the world.
These factors have turned Egypt, once the world’s great exporter of wheat, into one of its biggest wheat importers. That has been good news for other wheat producing countries, especially France and Russia. (The Black Sea region of Russia and Ukraine is the other ancient bread basket of the region.) The U.S. has had a difficult time competing with producers on the other side of the globe when it comes to the Egyptian wheat market, especially in recent years.
Soybeans, on the other hand, are seen as a market with great potential for growth in Egypt, with its large population and relatively low soy consumption to date. A delegation of farmers recently paid a visit to the Land of the Pharaohs, focused on launching a Soybean Excellence Center to promote increased demand for soy products in the region.
United Soybean Board Chair Keith Tapp elaborates: “because of its growing population and low consumption of soy, Egypt has been identified as a basic market that represent growth opportunity for U.S. soy.” He predicts that the efforts “could turn this country into one of U.S. soy’s top growth markets.”