Hussein Abousaddam, head of the farmers’ union, said that the cotton industry had collapsed as a result of the government’s failure to market the last season’s cotton crop.
He pinpointed a further cause in that the government was not committed to buying cotton from farmers at the promised price of LE2,500 per kantar for Upper Egypt cotton and LE2,700 per kantar for Lower Egypt cotton, forcing the farmers to sell to traders at prices not more than LE2,300 per kantar.
The heavy losses endured by farmers in the last season as a result led to their reluctance to grow the crop this year.
The area of cotton-growing land in the 1940s and 1950s was once two million feddans, which has now shrunk to an all-time low of 105,000 feddans this season, Abousaddam said.
Abousddam lamented the collapse of cotton cultivation, saying it represents a great loss due to the relative advantage of cotton growing and its high strategic value, including its low consumption of water as well as its role in the development of the textile and clothing industry, which reflects on the economy by providing hard currency if exported as textile.
He stressed that the return of Egyptian cotton to its glory is not impossible if the government applies a fair law that supports farmers and the cotton industry. He added that the cotton industry could also help revive the textile, feed, and oil industries.
He also backed the return of government subsidies to cotton farmers and textile factories and suggested stopping cotton import, and relying on the cultivation while keeping pace with the latest scientific progress in the cultivation of cotton.
Abousaddam explained that the “opening up” policy, the sale of textile factories, importing medium and short staple cotton and relying on it as well as lifting subsidies on farmers and encouraging importers instead of local production were all factors that lead to a decrease in domestic consumption by a very large percentage.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm