Abu Dhabi-based Al Dahra Agriculture is looking to produce 300,000 tonnes of wheat in Toshka, a southern region of Egypt’s desert, by the year 2016, its vice chairman confirmed.
Al Dahra has three existing and ongoing projects in Salihiya, Nubariya and East Owaynat, while its Toshka project, expected to use water from the High Aswan Dam, has been in the planning since at least 2008, when the company acquired 43,000 hectares of viable land.
The Mubarak-era deal came under scrutiny in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring, but work has since continued, and UAE and Al Dahra officials recently offered a cordial invitation to Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab to visit the developing infrastructure at the site.
Khadim Al Darei, Al Dahra’s vice chairman, and Sulaiman Al Nuaimi, CEO, noted that the company had already pumped $105m in investment into the infrastructure at Toshka, including the construction of a 50km canal just 60km from the border with Sudan.
“Work on the Toshka project is complete and we are set for cultivation by October 2015, we have plans to get around 300,000 tonnes of wheat from there,” Al Darei told Reuters, noting that the first harvest from Toshka is expected in May-June 2016.
Mahlab has in turn asserted that it is Egypt’s responsibility to resolve disputed cases with foreign investors and to improve the country’s investment climate as a whole, and that he had personally contacted ministers to remove the obstacles that had been facing Al Dahra.
The 300,000-tonne output of the Toshka project assumes a planned investment of $500m from Al Dahra Agriculture, which will then supply the wheat to the local Egyptian market – a first step towards the reduction of Egypt’s 10 million-tonne annual import of wheat.
Assuming this figure it reached, it will be the single largest UAE investment into Egypt.
The UAE is also helping Egypt to build silos to hold 1.5 million tonnes of wheat as the country targets a total storage capacity of 4.5 million tonnes, and on top of the wheat, Al Dahra also plans to produce 100,000 tonnes of potatoes and other crops for export.