- Created on Sunday, 16 September 2012 18:40
On March 24 2008, Egypt became the first country in the Arab world to commercialize biotech crops, by planting 700 ha of biotech yellow maize hybrid which was developed by crossing Bt maize (MON 810) with the maize variety Ajeeb to produce the new biotech Bt yellow maize hybrid AjeebYG. This biotech maize is resistant to three maize insect pest borers (Massoud, 2005).
Only 3% of Egypt’s 100 million ha land area is devoted to agriculture making it one of the world’s lowest levels of cultivable land per capita. This makes Egypt dependent on imports for about half of its food supply. The agriculture sector does however contribute about 20% to their GDP and provides about 50% of their employment.
Egypt’s main crops are rice, wheat, sugarcane and maize. Egypt produces about 6.1 million tons of maize (mostly yellow maize) and imports 4, 5 million tons of yellow maize valued at about US$1.3 billion. Field trials of Bt yellow maize have indicated a yield increase of up to 30% over conventional yellow hybrid maize. Egypt will soon be able to reduce the amount of maize imports by increasing its production of biotech maize.