Egyst Agricultural Crops aims to double its citrus exports this season to approximately EGP 390m compared to EGP 172m exported in 2015.
Chairman of Egyst Mohamed Dessouky said the company intends to increase the volume of citrus fruits exported to 120,000 tonnes, compared to only 50,000 last season. The company intends to operate its packaging plant for agricultural products in 2016 at an investment cost of EGP 200m on an area of 52,000sqm with a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes annually.
The plant will be comprised of an integrated agricultural manufacturing plant equipped to process all varieties of fruits and vegetables. The complex will include five lines for packaging citrus fruits. The plant began operations gradually in 2015 and the company has exported 4,000 tonnes of citrus through the facility.
The company has a packaging facility in Kafr Al-Dowar on an area of 14 acres with a capacity of 55,000 tonnes of citrus fruit annually and exports 150-200 tonnes daily.
Egyst has branches in Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan that serve as representative offices to promote their products. The company has begun dealing with major importers in those countries directly. The time required to transport agricultural crops to the countries of the Black Sea via refrigerated locomotives takes approximately ten days.
The company has three promotional offices located in the UAE, India, and China.
Dessouky stressed a need to amend the Egyptian export system to help companies compete against other countries. Turkey exported citrus fruits at prices no greater than $300 per tonne and subsidised exporters with approximately $55 per tonne compared to a cost of approximately $400 per tonne in Egypt. Export subsidies for citrus fruits were halted due to a number of companies exporting poor quality products in order to acquire the subsidies.
The decline in oil prices in 2015 caused significant losses for many companies and exerted a significant impact on Russian currency.
The main obstacles impeding exports in the recent past included halting work on Salam Bridge, which links the eastern and western portions of Port Said, resulting in containers arriving late to the port. The containers were unable to meet ship deadlines in some instances, causing Egyptian exporters to lose credibility.
Goods reach packing plants at shipment ports in East Port Said and are unloaded within seven days. This means that the quality of the goods is sacrificed and they become vulnerable to damage since 3 containers take four days to return to the packing station once again.
Increased fees for containers crossing the gates of Al-Karta forms one of the main obstacles impeding export activities. Container loads may not exceed 25 tonnes and a fee worth EGP 530 must be paid to cross. Containers weighing more than 25 tonnes are not permitted to enter European ports.
Dessouky said Egyptian banks are working to support agricultural exports by granting low cost loans that may be renewed annually with a 7% interest rate to increase the volume of exports. The Ministry of Agriculture however has frozen the funds despite their having received approvals to disburse the money two years ago.
He believes it is necessary to raise awareness among farmers about how to spray pesticides and cultivate new varieties capable of enduring shipping times. Agricultural products that are in higher demand on foreign markets should be cultivated more.
Egyst has always participated in global exhibitions for agricultural products to market their products; Egyptian exporters have been participating more and more in such exhibitions to study foreign markets and competitors’ products and to learn how to develop their exports.
Dessouky requested that taxes on exporters be reduced instead of treating them like importers, where companies pay EGP 10 per tonne for taxes.
Egyst is ranked fourth among 600 Egyptian companies specialised in exporting agricultural crops.