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Feed the Future Egypt Rural Agribusiness Strengthening Project


  • Smallholder farmers are not benefitting from Egypt’s sophisticated horticulture sector.
  • Abt is strengthening the horticulture market system with a buyer-led approach.
  • With better markets and increased productivity, farmer incomes will increase.
The Challenge

Growing demand for fresh and processed fruits and vegetables has enabled Egypt to solidify its presence in quality-conscious markets in Europe, the Gulf and sub-Saharan Africa. However, smallholder farmers in Upper Egypt—which benefits from fertile soil, good water quality and an early growing season—have been slow to exploit these trends. They hesitate to transition from low-margin traditional crops into higher-value, premium horticulture production. Barriers range from fragmented supply chains and unfavorable financing to inefficient transport and logistics systems.

Additionally, climate change has introduced temperature and weather variability that will increase the risk of invasive pests. A longer growing season can also have negative impacts by reducing crop yields and nutritional quality, threatening food security. Egypt’s climate will face higher, damaging temperatures and lower rainfall over key agricultural areas, requiring urgent adaptation investments.  According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), yields for food crops are projected to decline by over 10 percent by 2050 due to higher temperatures and water stress as well as increased salinity of irrigation water. Given Egypt’s high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, investments in climate change adaptation in the agriculture sector is essential.

The Approach

Abt supports development of an inclusive horticulture market system in Upper Egypt that integrates smallholder farmers into high-end local and international markets using a buyer-led approach. Abt helps buyers connect with smallholder farmer suppliers who are part of producer organizations and supports farmers’ efforts to meet requirements for quality, quantity and timeliness. Abt’s capacity building extends to pack houses and processors who seek to upgrade their operations. Partnerships with agricultural universities and technical schools help build the next generation’s agricultural workforce. The project has also adopted a market system approach, facilitating business linkages to support producer organizations and smallholder famers, signing forward contracts between buyers and the partner producer organizations, as well as supporting partner financial institutions for agricultural loans.

Additionally, the project has adopted a climate-smart agriculture approach, promoting sustainability by improving the efficiency of resource use on farms, finding ways to reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions from smallholder farms, and introducing innovations that will help to enhance food security and build climate resilience capacity. For example, vermicomposting contributes to climate change mitigation by reducing gas emissions from burning organic home and farm residuals and lessening the use of chemical fertilizers that depend on fossil fuels for manufacturing. Vermicompost plays an integral role in climate change adaptation as well, as it increases plant immunity and reduces infection from soil borne diseases, which are becoming more prevalent with global warming.

The Results

The project will benefit small farmers and Egypt’s horticulture industry as a whole. Through these interventions, Abt will enable market actors to improve their response to domestic and international demands. The project will decrease time-to-market and costs by facilitating access to improved supply chain infrastructure. This will ultimately improve the industry’s competitiveness. By the end of five years, the project will:

  • Increase average incomes for 120,000 small farmers.
  • Double the incomes of a minimum of 25,000 small farmers.
  • Create 12,000 sustainable jobs in agri-businesses.
  • Improve agricultural water-use efficiency over 22,000 hectares.
  • Leverage $10 million dollars through partnerships with Egyptian firms and agricultural organizations.

The project also is presenting low-cost smart solutions for mitigating and adapting to climate change; increasing soil fertility; improving crop rotation, intercropping, and water management; and introducing the concepts of sustainable farming, safe use of pesticides, integrated pest management, and good agricultural practices, including good post-harvest handling and storage.