By the Gazette Editorial Board
Prices of fertilisers have recently risen dramatically due to the decrease in the quantities being provided by the factories to farmers via the Ministry of Agriculture.
Some kinds of fertilisers have risen in price by around LE1,250 per tonne since the start of 2018. And this has had its effect on the summer crops which need around 2.2 million tons of fertiliser.
Some experts attribute the price rise to the recent cuts in fuel and electricity subsidies along with price rises for production requirements. The fact is that most of the local factories produce for the export market. There are, after all, good profits to be made abroad on local products following the devaluation of the Egyptian pound against foreign currencies, mainly the US dollar.
Despite the addition such a strategy could make to the state’s foreign currency reserves, directing most of the local output for export at a cost to the local market has a very negative effect on different sectors especially that of agriculture.
Any reduction in arming requirements will eventually be reflected in the quality of the crops and their prices, whether consumed locally or abroad.
The least the government could do is to ensure that the fertiliser factories meet domestic needs – estimated at 9.5 million tonnes per year – first. Egypt produces around 21 million tonnes of fertiliser per year. So it is really unacceptable that the farmers should find it difficult to obtain this basic need at a reasonable price.
What has been said on the fertiliser crisis can also be applied to many other local products, such as fruits and vegetables. These have recorded a marked rise in export recently at a cost to local market needs.
Those with big farms have been tempted by the high profits to be made by exports to foreign markets. This, however, helps make the prices of these basic foods rise on the local market. Added to this is the further expected increment to prices resulting from the cut in the fuel subsidy and the subsequent rise in transport costs for crops from farms to the wholesale markets where both wholesale and, eventually, retail merchants will expect to make a profit. The dramatic rise in prices of most kinds of summer fruits and vegetables, however, is basically due to the continuous increase in their export.
Theoretically, any rise in exports helps cut a trade deficit and serves the national economy of the exporting country. This, however, shouldn't be at a cost to domestic need. The export of surpluses is the usual practice.
Giving priority to exports shouldn't be the priority, especially in regard to basic foods and farming requirements. It boosts economic hardships for the majority of people, who struggle to meet their basic needs on limited incomes.
CAIRO, June 12, 2018 (MENA) - The Chemical & Fertilizers Export Council said Tuesday that the exports of chemical sector increased through the period between January and April to reach $1.655 billion compared with $1.305 billion in the same period last year with an increase of 27%.
In a report released by the council, a copy of which MENA obtained, the council stated that sector's exports recorded a collective rise except detergents sector that plunged to 16% to reach $89.35 million compared with $106 million.
Egypt's exports of plastics engineering products hit $539.19 million compared with $426.18 million in 2017, with an increase of 27%, added the report.
Also, the exports of fertilizer products registered $318.60 million compared with $303.51 million in the same period last year as well as paper and cardboard products which reached $195.61 million compared with $169.81 million in 2017, read the report.
While, the inorganic chemicals' exports witnessed significant increase with a percentage of 111 to record $171.50 million compared with $81.323 million in addition to the organic chemicals' exports that recorded $80.26 million compared with $32.23 in the same period last year.
Other products including inks, paints, coal and batteries had witnessed increase also.