UNIDO project seeks to revive Egypt’s cotton industry
A new UNIDO project will help revive the Egyptian cotton industry which produces some of the highest quality fibre, known all over the world as Egypt’s ‘white gold’. Although an important pillar of the Egyptian economy, the textile sector plays a marginal role in the global textile value chain due to the absence of innovation, lack of a skilled workforce, high input prices, inefficient agricultural practices and an inability to meet international market needs.
The two-year project launched in the presence of Egypt's Prime Minister, Sherif Ismail, will enhance the sustainability, inclusiveness and value addition of the country’s cotton value chain. This will be done by supporting cotton growers in applying sustainable agricultural practices and non-polluting production practices, while also improving the national mechanisms for quality assurance and organic certification.
Funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the project will be implemented by UNIDO, together with Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, and Filmar S.p.A., a leading Italian textile company.
Tarek Kabil, Minister of Trade and Industry, briefly recalled the main objectives of the project, and then highlighted the relevance of the project in the context of importance of the textile industry to the national economy.
He remarked that the sector contributes up to 3% of Gross Domestic Product, employs about one third of the country’s industrial labour force, and generates exports to the value of about US$2.6bn, constituting 15% of Egypt’s non-oil exports. The sector is therefore at the top of the Egyptian government agenda, as well as one of the strategic sectors included in the industrial strategy recently launched by the ministry.
“The Egyptian extra-long staple cotton is the gold standard for the world's finest linens and clothing, however its production and demand are steadily declining,” said UNIDO Director and Regional Representative, Giovanna Ceglie, at the signing. “This project wants to contribute to reversing this trend: together with our partners from the government and private sector we want to help growers to produce more and better cotton, small and medium-sized enterprises to manufacture quality cotton products, and workers to benefit from higher skills and higher incomes. We emphasize the green aspect of this project as it will promote organic and clean production of cotton, as well as the social impact, as we intend to support also the poorer segments in the cotton value chain.”
Also in attendance at the project launch ceremony was the AICS Director Felice Longobardi who recalled that “for more than twenty years the Italian Cooperation has counted as one of Egypt’s most important partners. The initiative that we signed today is perfectly in line with both our priorities and those of the Egyptian Government, touching at the same time two very important areas: private sector development and agriculture.
We hope that the joint efforts of Italian Cooperation, UNIDO, Filmar, Alex Bank, Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Agriculture will revive the glorious past of precious Egyptian cotton.”