EGYPT – The Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA) has announced that the agricultural research scientists in the authority have started harvesting the production of a new strain of genetically-modified (GM) wheat at the authority’s site in Inshas city, Bilbeis, Sharqia Governorate.
The authority said in a statement that the strain has high-productivity with distinct characteristics such as being resistant to cultivation in saline lands, and water shortage.
According to the statement, the rate of production exceeds 4 tons per acre, with an increase of almost a ton over the currently cultivated Egyptian varieties. This variety cultivation takes only 140 days.
Dr. Amr El-Hajj, the Head of the EAEA, said the cultivation of this strain could contribute to increasing Egypt’s local production of wheat by 33 percent and consequently would decrease the imported wheat.
In early April, Hesham El Hossary, the Head of the Agricultural Committee at the House of Representatives said in media comments that the crisis of Coronavirus pandemic and the political international situation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict had pushed the state to consider planting the GM products.
Egypt prohibits importing and planting GMO seeds, but allows imports of GM-produced soybeans and maize that have been approved from the country of origin, especially from the United States.
The country is currently suffering from crisis of wheat supply due to the Russian-Ukraine conflict as the two countries are the biggest wheat importers to Egypt.
To this end, the government is working to increase the area of the wheat crops by 1.5 million feddans over the next three years in accordance with a new study conducted by the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC).
Egypt needs about 18 million tons of wheat annually, with local productivity of 10 million tons of wheat. So, it has been gravely affected by the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict as it gets 80 percent of exported wheat from both conflicting countries.
On April 21, 2020, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi made an inspection tour in Toshka agricultural lands in the South Valley of Upper Egypt’s Aswan early to witness the start of the wheat harvest season.
He then gave the green light for the opening of some wheat silos via video in several governorates and watched a documentary on Egypt’s achievements to secure the wheat needed for local consumption.