Achieving sustainable economic development is strongly linked to the development of the agricultural sector, the minister of agriculture and land reclamation said.
The unprecedented growth in Egypt's agricultural sector over the past seven years aimed to achieve food security, raise the competitive edge of the country's exports and narrow the import gap, El Sayed Qoseir said at the inauguration on Monday of a wastewater treatment plantgurated in Bahr el Baqr in the presence of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli.
It was designed to also provide jobs and achieve balanced and sustainable development,
The agricultural sector's contribution to the gross domestic product is 15 percent, it employs 25 percent of the workforce and its exports amount to 5.2 million tons worth 2.2 billion dollars or 33 million Egyptian pounds, he added.
Water shortage is the greatest challenge facing the country's agricultural sector and the government has worked relentlessly to provide unconventional sources of water such as the treatment of agricultural waste water, desalination of sea water and the optimal use of groundwater, the minister of agriculture said.
Other mechanisms for coping with water scarcity involve the lining of canals, the upgrading of the irrigation systems and rationalizing the cultivation of water-thirsty crops, he said at the inauguration of Bahr el Baqar wastewater treatment plant, the world's largest plant of its kind.
The agricultural sector is very sensitive to climate change both directly and indirectly which in turn affects the production and quality of crops and consumption of water, thus leading to desertification and deterioration of agricultural lands, he added.
A national council for climate change was formed under the prime minister involving all ministries and bodies concerned to formulate strategies and solutions to reduce the effects of climate change, he said.
Overpopulation does not conform to the rates of economic development which undermines development rates and agricultural production, Qoseir said.
The state has over the past seven years increased agricultural lands to reach 9.7 million feddans and has implemented several mega national projects such as the north and central Sinai development project, the new Delta, Toshka and the new Egyptian countryside, he said.
All these ventures will expand agricultural lands, raise the rates of self sufficiency, create jobs, provide a competititve edge for agricultural products and improve Egypt's chances for achieving food security, he said.
Egypt's agricultural sector has been widely acclaimed and is proceeding towards achieving economic growth and food security, he added.