The Horticultural Export Improvement Association (HEIA) is preparing a timetable for expanding in African markets in the coming period and boosting the size of its agricultural exports in cooperation with officials of the East and South African markets.
Chairperson of HEIA, Mohsen El Beltagy, said that the plan to expand in the African markets will begin in September.
He explained that many African markets represent unique opportunities for cultivation and exporting, where the company is working to utilise them in the best way possible in order to intensify Egypt’s presence across the continent, especially in Ghana.
The association will hold bilateral meetings between importers in those countries and Egyptian exporters, in order to learn about their needs and present Egyptian products, he added.
He noted that specifying the type of products that can be exported to certain markets require using informed studies, sending samples, and obtaining approvals.
The goal of the association is to account for the largest possible share in African markets, he stated, especially as many other countries have their eyes set on moving to Africa.
El Beltagy said that African markets cannot be replaced by other countries and will not be replacing European markets.
He explained that the general plan is focused on exporting in general, but the specified plan will target each market separately with certain products.
Egyptian products face many obstacles that must be solved soon before exporting them to the continent, he pointed out.
He also noted that Egypt has a good share in European markets, driven by the easy transportation and shipping.
Yet, in Africa, shipping is not an easy task. He urged the need to find simple solutions to develop logistics, especially as agriculture products can easily be damaged by delay, which costs exporters huge amounts.
El Beltagy also noted that trade agreements with foreign countries are a good step to strengthen relations with them and increase cultural and trade exchange.
He said that Egypt did not benefit from Africa at all, due to the lack of studies and weak exporting.
Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia are the markets being targeted for entry, he stated.
He explained that exporting to new countries requires several steps in Egypt first, such as taking an interest in governorates in Lower Egypt and benefitting from the large areas of desert in the country in order to increase the overall size of cultivated lands and increase exports.
El Beltagy said that Egypt’s accession into the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) will help develop Egyptian agriculture and improve the quality of crops.
He added that the formal accession is one step away, following a meeting between Egypt and officials in Switzerland soon.
He explained that Egypt can invest in agriculture in African countries.
In addition, he noted that rumours that spread about Egyptian crops every now and then aim to hinder the sector, noting that Egyptian products enter the markets of European Union countries, which require strict quality and conditions.