To mark 200 years on planting the first seeds of cotton in Egypt, the Egyptian Association of Young Businessmen held a recent seminar in Cairo under the title “200 years of Egyptian Cotton”. Mona Mehrez, Deputy to the Agriculture Minister for animal, poultry and fish wealth, delivered a speech during which she talked of the Ministry’s vision on Egyptian cotton.
”Egyptian cotton is among the finest cottons in the world,” Dr Mehrez said. “For us, it is not just a crop; it is a history, present, and the future for modern Egypt’s renaissance because of its natural and technological features and its superiority to other global cottons.
“Cotton has in modern years been victim to local and global changes that negatively affected its cultivation and production, the outcome being reduced areas of land planted with cotton.”
Dr Mehrez explained that, since 2015, the Agriculture Ministry in Egypt has adopted a new strategy aimed at reforming the system of production and marketing of Egyptian cotton. Accordingly, the planted area increased from 131,000 feddans in 2016 to 216,000 feddans in the 2017, and 336,000 feddans in 2018. All reports indicate that Egyptian cotton has been regaining its main features and quality. “The strategy fruited through increasing global demand for Egyptian cotton,” Dr Mehrez said. “The cotton exported by Egypt in the 2017/2018 season amounted to more than 55,000 tons to more than 20 countries including India, Pakistan, Germany, China, Turkey, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.”
Cotton cultivation was introduced to Egypt by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the Ottoman viceroy to Egypt who reigned from 1805 to 1848, and who is considered the founder of modern Egypt. Muhammad Ali’s development strategy was based on agriculture. He expanded the area under cultivation and planted crops specifically for export, such as long-staple cotton, rice, and sugar cane.
The commercial cultivation of cotton in Egypt began with initial, high-priced exports to France. The quality of the cotton soon drew international attention and Muhammad Ali introduced commercial-scale plantation of cotton as a cash crop. Over the years, Egyptian-produced cotton sheets became known and popular all over the world.
In 1926, the Egyptian government initiated measures for maintaining cotton quality and imposed strict controls of the seeds to make sure they were not mixed with others of lesser quality.
11 November 2018