HEIA and members were very much interested in leveraging a new investment by building a Pack House, cold stores and Training Center in Luxor Governorate in Upper Egypt that will enhance participation and benefits to thousands of smallholders of the higher value chains and fresh produce export in the target area in Upper Egypt feeding to the perishable terminal. HEIA and members are looking for an inclusive marketing systems that will greatly expand the skills and capacities of smallholders in Upper Egypt to meet exporters and processors requirements. The project in turn will improve lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, generate tremendous employment opportunities, and improve food security.
The strategy of inclusive growth has strong appeal in agriculture, where a successful smallholder-led strategy for inclusive growth can precipitate a structural transformation that increases productivity, incomes, and food security in rural areas. Upgrading, which is defined in terms of increased productivity and efficiency, plays an essential role in bringing smallholders into higher value markets because it increases smallholder contributions to value added. Inclusive growth in agricultural value chains focuses on smallholder participation, upgrading behavior, and outcomes related to agricultural productivity, agricultural profits, and smallholder incomes.
The Horticulture Export Improvement Association (HEIA) has great interest in the horticulture sector in Upper Egypt due to the counter season potential for fresh pack exports to lucrative export markets. HEIA was allocated land in 2007 near the Luxor international airport and less than 230 kilometers from the sea port of Safaga. The pre-cooling and cold storage capacity of the perishable terminal project is 90 metric tons/day of high quality fresh produce items. The business plan of the project shows 244 days of operation year round with specific focus on green beans (October-January), strawberry (December and January), table grapes (May and June), pomegranate (August and September), and melons (November and December). Other crops such as spring onions and garlic, cherry and plum tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes will be considered.
- Development objective and outcomes
The development goal of the Luxor pack house and cold store project is to increase the incomes of 4,300 rural households in Upper Egypt, including smallholder farmers, landless laborers, women, unemployed youth, small and medium entrepreneurs by integrating them in the high value horticulture value chain.
The Luxor pack house and cold store project will enhance farmer’s capacity for organization, enhance food security and link them to agriculture value chains for better access to markets. It will enhance farmer’s capacity to interpret and respond to market signals; equip them to produce for the domestic and international markets through facilitation of direct links with exporters and processors and expand Egyptian fresh produce for export from Upper Egypt. The outcomes of the project include the following:
- Enhanced employment opportunities through on and off-farm rural employment generation
- Improve smallholders income from available limited agriculture resources through price premiums
- Reduced production losses through access to new technology, access to post-harvest, transport and processing facilities and integration in the agriculture value chain
- Improved assets utilization to create better opportunities for horticulture producers in upper Egypt
- Establish a local export base for HEIA in Upper Egypt through comprehensive training and capacity building programs for local exporters to regional and international markets, training existing HEIA exporters on market window freshpack opportunities from Upper Egypt
- Introduction of innovative food production technologies to ensure sustainable development and protection of the environment
- Promotion of gender equity through enhancing social and economic participation of women and building of gender-equitable regime. Horticulture production is heavy labor intensive with women and young girls are key resources for skilled labor in harvest and post-harvest. Ensuring active participation of women and girls will generate independent gender source of income and enhance their participation in the farming decision making process. Gender focused training and capacity building program for housewife and ag technical school students and graduated girls will implemented to build sustainable gender extension agents for harvest, post-harvest, and marketing.
 Exporters indicate that women and girls are a must source of labor for harvest and postharvest operations. Perishability of the target crops and women attention to details makes it is must to perform such activities through skilled female labor.