The Agricultural Innovation Project (AIP) boosts Egypt’s agricultural sector
Title: Agricultural Innovation Project (AIP)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR)
Overall term: 2020 to 2023
Agriculture is a key sector in the Egyptian economy. In 2019, it contributed 11 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and accounted for 23 per cent of total employment. In Upper Egypt, where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line, 55 per cent of employment is agriculture related. As such, developing the agriculture sector is vital to reducing poverty, promoting rural development, improving food security, moving towards gender equality, and combating climate change. This is especially so in the rural communities.
There are numerous areas where sector development and smallholder support are needed, as the challenges faced by rural farmers present themselves in various activities along the value chains. For example, fragmentation of land tenure and inefficient farming techniques reduce farming productivity. In addition to this, insufficient value addition and inefficient processing, together with a poor marketing infrastructure and inadequate post-harvest facilities act as further profit inhibitors. Agricultural businesses often struggle to fulfil quality requirements, preventing them from seizing profitable sales opportunities in domestic and export markets. The Agricultural Innovation Project promotes innovative business models, technologies and practices to tackle these challenges and increase income opportunities for small-scale agriculture in Upper Egypt.
Incomes in small-scale agriculture in Upper Egypt are increased through agricultural innovation.
The project targets rural communities in Upper Egypt. In total, it is supporting 10,000 smallholders, focusing on those who cultivate less than three feddans (1.26 hectares), as well as individual farmers and members of 30 producer associations.
The project works with a broad spectrum of public and private partners to increase the income of smallholders. A value-chain approach is used, and it rigorously applies a market perspective. The project focuses on value chains in the horticulture sector with a high market value. These include medical and aromatic plants (MAP), peppers and chilies, onions and garlic, while exploring opportunities in growing domestic and export markets.
The various forms of support offered to farmers, farmer organisations (FOs) and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) include organisational assistance, technological innovations, a consolidation of their marketing abilities and an attempt to diversify their sales channels. The project achieves this through three main workstreams; (i) providing better market access for smallholders; (ii) improving the institutional support they receive, and (iii) boosting innovation in productivity and sustainability.
Market linkages for smallholders are fostered by improving their competitiveness in the value chain, facilitating roundtables, and developing outgrower schemes and public-private partnerships. An incubation programme promotes microenterprise development.
To ensure better institutional support for smallholders, the project invests in improving the capacities of farmer organisations and other rural service providers. Services are provided to mobilise communities and increase management and business capacities in small-scale agriculture
The innovation process is supported all along the value chain by creating an innovation framework and establishing knowledge hubs and challenge funds to identify and promote innovations that promise sustainable increases in productivity and income. Such innovations include certification processes to improve market access, as well as the promotion of organic farming.
Digital solutions that improve access to information on input supply, marketing, extension and financial services are being explored.
All activities focus on the inclusion of women and youth by identifying and addressing their specific needs and opportunities in Upper Egypt’s agriculture sector.