New fruit varieties on course for Egypt under UPOV -

New fruit varieties on course for Egypt under UPOV

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New fruit varieties on course for Egypt under UPOV

The Egyptian produce industry couldn't have chosen a better moment to be the sponsor country at Fruit Logistica, with a new legal framework set to encourage breeding programs and new variety plantings in the near future.

During the event in Berlin last week, Egyptian Agricultural Export Council board member and Belco chairman Sherif El Beltagy told the country would likely soon be joining the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

"There are a lot of new varieties coming to Egypt that are making a change and the basket of fruit that you have from Egypt is going to change very soon, especially when Egypt will very soon be a member in UPOV," El Beltagy said.

Sherif El Beltagy

Sherif El Beltagy

"That will allow the breeders to come to Egypt to offer new varieties in a comfortable way.

"The good news is that our parliament approved the law two weeks ago, and so we will be a UPOV member very soon. It’s just a matter of sending some documents to Geneva."

The executive lists grapes, berries and citrus as a few fruit categories that will benefit, particularly the latter when it comes to easy peelers.

He claimed Egypt was the world's leading exporter of oranges with 1.2 million metric tons (MT) shipped annually, and this is a crop that can still grow further, but mandarins were not yet the nation's strength.

"But with UPOV you will be able to get the new varieties to Egypt and this I believe is going to expand the citrus business in a big way [in easy peelers]," he said.

"Grapes will benefit for sure.You have very good grape breeders in America, who are waiting for Egypt to be in and then they will be marketing."

Belco itself is already growing strawberry varieties from the likes of Californian groups Driscoll's and Ekland.

"In strawberries you have Driscoll’s for example from America which has been in Egypt for four or five years even before UPOV," he said.

"But UPOV will help these companies to have a breeding program for example inside Egypt; that might happen some day."

However, it is a different kind of berry that has been the latest news for El Beltagy's company.

"We also have a new crop. This is the first time that raspberries are being grown in Egypt with varieties from Planasa from Spain," he said.

"With the raspberry we are new in this crop, but what we did was we took most of the know-how from Spain, as well as the plants, greenhouses and consultants.

"We did everything that they are doing, and I believe we are receiving now a very good quality raspberry - size-wise, color-wise, it’s very good."

El Beltagy highlighted Egypt's presence at Fruit Logistica had grown significantly over the past decade, from just four exhibitors to more than 90 last week.

He added the weather was also very different compared to the country's early days as a Fruit Logistica participant.

"If you look at the weather in Europe over the last few months it’s been warm; I always come to this city and I find snow – I cannot find snow anymore, I can go outside with a jacket and no coat.

"In Egypt we also have had some changes we’ve never seen before. Two months ago we had a huge rain with a storm, and really it affected some areas in our country and we lost some crops during that time.

"You can also see for example that Spain this year was early with the strawberries by one month, so there was a clash between Egyptian, Spanish and Moroccan fruit."

He said the fair was the best place to meet customers from around the world, and the Egyptian fruit industry would continue to seek out new markets.

"We are looking for China; for example we have negotiations with them. They already opened for the citrus and hopefully they will open for grapes," he said.

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