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Time to tap the gold mine

By the Gazette Editorial Board

The inability to bridge the gap between scientific research and its application has always been a major defect in government policies. There might have been individual attempts here and there to make use of certain research papers in upgrading some sectors.


But the general trend is to associate scientific research with academic purposes. Therefore, important research findings have, in most cases, failed to find their way out of the universities and research centres.


In recent years, especially with the economic reform plan being aimed at promoting performance and production, calls have become more insistent for the industrial and production sectors to capitalise on patents and research papers.


The country is currently treading a tough path towards advancement in all walks of life, and many countries that have set the same goal were keen on employing scientific research for development purposes.


The government recently decided to import rice, to make up for the cut in local rice cultivation, as part of a state policy to save water, to counteract the water shortage experienced in recent years and expected in the future.


The public has been concerned over the government's decision because the imported rice is very different in taste from locally-produced brands, and rice is a basic component of the Egyptians' daily menu.


However, weeks after steps were taken to buy the imported strains, the public was surprised at an official announcement that a new local rice strain had been developed at the Agricultural Research Centre. 


The Minister of Agriculture, Ezz Eddin Abu Steit, said that a research team had come up with a highly productive strain which can withstand high temperatures, consume small quantities of water and ripen in a shorter time.


The good news is that the new strain saves about five billion cubic metres of water per year. Abu Steit also explained that the strain can be cultivated in desert areas.


Given the advantages of the new strain, the minister was optimistic about the country's ability to achieve self-sufficiency in rice in the course of a few years.


This research must have been done some time ago. So, if the Ministry of Agriculture had earlier started small scale experimentation with the new strain, the government would have had a good alternative to continue growing local rice in new areas.


The point then is that importation has usually been a ready alternative to make up for any shortage in major crops or products in the local market. It must be said that some import tycoons know how to take advantage of loopholes to secure their personal interests. 


Scientific research is a gold mine which can solve many outstanding problems, only if and when the bodies concerned decide to dig for the gold.

CAIRO, June 26, 2018 (MENA) - Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli held a meeting on Sunday to ensure commitment to the area allocated for rice cultivation nationwide in view of the country's measures to face water shortage challenges.

The prime minister underlined the importance of adhering to the allocated area for this water-intensive crop.

Agriculture Minister Ezz-Eddin Abu Steit said that the ministry and its affiliated bodies have  managed to face several attempts on the part of rice growers to break the set rules especially in the central Nile Delta governorates.

During the meeting, Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel Ati reviewed the measures taken by the ministry to rationalise water consumption and protect water resources, the cabinet spokesman, Ashraf Sultan, said.

He noted that farmers have started to use new rice irrigation methods to increase productivity and reduce water consumption.

He asserted that Egypt will import needed rice amounts to cater for local market needs, noting that the imported rice will be of the same high quality of the local equivalent.

CAIRO, June 5, 2018 (MENA) - The Egyptian government has decided to import needed quantities of rice to meet market demands and match the same high quality of the locally produced rice.

The move aims to control the market and increase the supply.

The decision was taken at a meeting that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail held on Tuesday, in the presence of the ministers of supply and agriculture along with representatives of several competent bodies.

During the meeting, the prime minister asserted that all needed measures will be taken to boost the supply of rice products in the market and prevent bottlenecks in the coming phase.

The prime minister has assigned the Finance Ministry to make needed studies for the establishment of a special crisis management unit to address price fluctuations at the global markets, especially when it comes to importing basic strategic commodities including petroleum, crude oil and wheat products.