Egypt’s silky soft cotton prized by makers of luxury bedding and clothing, has become so scarce as production has fallen that most supplies sold under its brand name last year were fake.
But a surge in local cotton prices ahead of next month’s planting season, and a crackdown on ersatz Egyptian cotton worldwide, are reviving interest in cultivating the long-neglected crop.
“There’s a lot of attention at the moment, especially from the trade ministry, to improve the whole supply chain of Egypt’s textile industry. So, we’re expecting that Egyptian cotton will return this season, after reaching its worst record in its history last season, to what it was before,“Executive Director of Cotton Egypt Association, Khaled Schuman said.
Farmers, spinners, and exporters say the weakness of the Egyptian pound following its flotation in November and a scandal over the alleged sale of falsely labelled Egyptian cotton have increased demand for the real thing, injecting life into a historic industry on its deathbed.
“Based on the characteristics that we’ve seen, cotton is considered better this year – this means, there are no losses, and no problems in operations,” Ahmed Hussen, factory manager at Egyptyarn said.
Last year, agricultural production of Egypt’s high quality long-staple cotton hit a more than 100-year low.
Its return to world markets could provide a lucrative export opportunity at a time when Egypt has a huge trade deficit and is seeking to relaunch its stagnant economy.