Egypt to dou­ble its high-qual­ity cot­ton pro­duc­tion and ex­port

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Egypt aims to dou­ble pro­duc­tion of its most fa­mous ex­port, the silky soft cot­ton once known as “white gold”, after a pe­riod of slump­ing out­put, an Agri­cul­ture Min­istry spokesman said on Satur­day. Hamed Ab­del-Dayem told Reuters pro­duc­tion should rise to 1.4 million qin­tar (160 kg) in the 2017-18 fis­cal year that started in July from 700,000 qin­tar a year ear­lier. All the cot­ton will be ex­ported.

The gov­ern­ment aims to in­crease the price of the long sta­ple cot­ton to more than 3000 Egyp­tian pounds ($168.07) per qin­tar, which will all be ex­ported, the spokesman said. Pro­duc­tion of the cot­ton, used in lux­ury bed­ding, has fallen sharply since 2011, a year of po­lit­i­cal up­heaval that co­in­cided with looser reg­u­la­tions that de­graded the qual­ity of lo­cal cot­ton.

Egypt’s sunny skies and su­pe­rior seed help it grow a cot­ton known for un­usu­ally long fibers that pro­duce a light durable fab­ric with an at­trac­tive sheen and soft touch. Long-sta­ple sells at 155 US cents per lb, about twice the price of com­mon short-sta­ple cot­ton. Its re­turn to world mar­kets could pro­vide a lu­cra­tive ex­port op­por­tu­nity at a time when Egypt has a huge trade deficit and is seek­ing to re­launch its stag­nant econ­omy. In 2016 Egypt banned all but the high­est qual­ity cot­ton seed, dra­mat­i­cally shrink­ing the area un­der cul­ti­va­tion but restor­ing qual­ity, in a bid to save its his­toric crop.

This year Egypt grew about 220,000 acres (89,000 hectares) of long-sta­ple cot­ton com­pared with 130,000 acres (52,600 hectares) in 2016-2107, Ab­del-Dayem said. Farmers, spin­ners, and ex­porters say the weak­ness of the Egyp­tian pound fol­low­ing its flota­tion in Novem­ber and a scan­dal over the al­leged sale of falsely la­beled Egyp­tian cot­ton have in­creased demand for the real thing, in­ject­ing life into a his­toric in­dus­try on its deathbed.—

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