Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wheat Dreams

Food security
The topic of the day raging among the talking pinheads in Egypt is the total output of this year's domestic wheat crop. The nine o-clock news on state television started off with a full twenty minute segment on the issue. A smiling president stood in the midst of waving wheat fields confidently forecasting self-sufficiency. Predictably, the pro-Morsi crowd is pointing to optimistic measurements of record output, whereas the Morsi detractors claim the numbers are exaggerated and hearken to even more fantastic production levels that could be reached but for presidential mismanagement.  Both sides are missing the point: Egypt should not be targeting self-sufficiency in cereals.  

Remember Egypt's legendary cotton? Sacrificed at the alter of cheap bread and state intervention. High value citrus, specialized vegetables and berries? Ditto. Yes, Egypt was the known as the breadbasket of the Roman Empire, but that was over 2000 years and 80 million less inhabitants-ago, and before the advent of global trade. Ninety-six percent of Egypt is a barren desert, and much of the remainder is largely urbanized lands on the narrow banks of the Nile. This doesn't mean that Egypt cannot have a vibrant agricultural sector, but it does mean that using precious lands and scare water resources to grow tall grasses suited to wide spaces and regular rainfall makes little sense.

Egyptians needs to wake up from the wet dreams on wheat. 

Egypt's lasting blessings

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