CAIRO – 14 October 2018: Ministry of Agriculture ordered on Sunday to stop tomato exports after the infection of thousands of acres with yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) was confirmed.
Samples taken from the fields for analysis tested positive for the virus, according to the investigation committee tasked to probe into the issue, the ministry added in a statement.
Earlier in October, the Egyptian authorities launched investigations after a group of farmers suffered losses in their 2018 tomato crops which resulted from planting seeds of class 023, infected with tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV).
Committees of the state-owned Agricultural Research Center (ARC) analyzed samples of the infected tomatoes from several planted areas.
The infected crops were planted on around 10,000 acres across many rural areas, mainly in Nobaria and Wadi al-Natroun cities in Beheira governorate.
The cost of cultivating one acre of tomato was estimated at LE 50,000 (US$ 2,795). Tomato is considered one of Egypt’s major exported crops.
In September, a number of farmers filed a complaint to Minister of Agriculture Ezz el-Din Abu Steit, calling to launch a probe pertaining to the infected seeds, bought from a private company.
They stated in the complaint that the company claimed that the sowed seeds are resistant to the TYLCV virus. However, it was proved the opposite, according to a copy of the letter published by youm7 newspaper.
Abu Steit affirmed that the Agriculture Ministry is a part the problem as the company previously obtained a license from the Plant Research Institute, which is affiliated to the ARC, to import the tomato seeds of class 023.
Egypt cultivates a total of 500,000 acres of tomatoes annually in different areas nationwide. Around 20 tons of tomatoes are produced in one acre, Head of Vegetables Department at the state-owned Central Administration of Horticulture, Alaa al-Bahrawy, told Infrad website.
Egypt’s tomato exports in the first quarter of 2018 amounted to $13.5 million, compared to $6.6 million in the same period of 2017, according to Egypt’s Foreign Trade’s annual bulletin.
Furthermore, it has been reported that Egypt will export tomatoes to the Canadian markets as part of its plan to increase vegetable export outlets.