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Egypt's trade in fragrant jasmine flowers on the hike

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AFP

Egypt

Aromatic oil extracts for perfumes from Egypt's Gharbiya region make up over half the global supply.

Egypt and India are the leading producers of jasmine extract, making up around 95 percent of supply, according to the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades (IFEAT).

Egyptian farmers have long complained that the low production costs of their big rival India drive their prices down.

Around 70 percent of the region's floral production is handled by the Fakhry essential oils factory

"There are some competitors to Egypt (in Jasmine production) such as India and Tunisia, that's why we are trying to produce the best quality we have," said Badr Atef ,a manager at the Fakhry essential oils factory.

Jasmine trade is estimated to pull in some $6.5 million annually for Egypt, providing income to around 50,000 people.

The scent of flowers is intense.

According to Atef, factory owner Ahmed Fakhry was inspired to farm jasmine when, as a young student in the 1960s, he visited the town of Grasse, the birthplace of French perfumes, on the Cote d'Azur.

Returning to Egypt, Fakhry introduced his new perfume knowledge and set up commercial jasmine farming and processing.

"Now 20 tonnes of jasmine flowers are picked daily" in Egypt, Atef said, estimating that some 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of the scented plant are farmed in the Gharbiya region.

From all those flowers, some five tonnes of dense jasmine paste is finally produced each year.

Egyptian farmers have long complained that the low production costs of their big rival India drive their prices down.

But the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic has been harder still, with demand dropping sharply, farmers said.

****AFP****

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