Tools of the trade: Digitalisation is key to efforts to bolster food and water security

Many of the government of Egypt’s recent reforms have centred around modernisation and digitalisation across all areas of the economy. Egypt Vision 2030 lays the groundwork for a digital transformation, and the Sustainable Agriculture Development Strategy 2030 focuses this shift on the agriculture sector.

With climate change exacerbating water scarcity and food insecurity, it will be important for Egypt’s agriculture sector to respond rapidly to future challenges. It can do so not only by adopting farming machinery and better irrigation methods, but also by introducing new technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) into the field. These measures can help make Egypt more competitive at the international level and enhance domestic food security.

Egypt Vision 2030, created in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, aims to transform the country into a leader in the tech sphere, with a focus on digital transformation. The Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) launched several initiatives aimed at digitalising the agricultural sector, and has helped workers adapt to new and modernised systems through training programmes.

Tech Efforts

MALR has worked in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to launch several initiatives to facilitate the use of technology in agriculture. In 2016, for example, MALR introduced a smart card scheme for farmers, aimed at automating services. Farmers can use the card to see the fertiliser, pesticide and seed quotas for their land – curtailing the overuse of fertiliser and enhancing oversight of the distribution process – as well as land ownership data and which crops are ideal for the area. Working with the Agricultural Bank of Egypt, in 2020 MALR linked the card with the Meeza payment system to allow farmers to make agricultural purchases. More recently, in December 2021 MALR and the MCIT introduced the Hudhud mobile application, which uses AI to help farmers identify and treat pests.

The sector has also received ongoing support from international organisations such as US Agency for International Development and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The latter developed Map Egypt, an interactive map that shows national and international agriculture projects across the country, and provides information on their cost, status, implementers, type of financing and donors. It also features social indicators on a governorate level. IFPRI-Egypt’s other digital offering, the Online Agricultural Investment Data Analyser, allows users to simulate the direct and indirect impact of agricultural investment on GDP, employment and livelihoods. The tool is expected to be launched in Jordan, Tunisia and Yemen as well.

To support digitalisation, in April 2021 the government implemented a $35bn rural fibre-optic project. The initial phase saw 1300 villages connected in 2021, with the final target of connecting over 4500 villages, or more than 60m Egyptians. The added connectivity could help encourage the use of digital farming tools.


It will be important for modernisation and digitalisation efforts to take into consideration threats to the environment, especially given the impact of climate change on the sector. This can include using technologies to combat the loss of land due to rising sea levels, boost crop productivity, and ensure food and water security. The government aims to enhance the efficiency of crop cultivation and increase output, transforming ancient irrigation techniques into modern systems using machinery and infrastructure. The modernisation of agricultural land will be further supported by data gathering, and the use of AI and machine learning to make farming more efficient.

One of the major barriers to introducing these types of technologies is a lack of awareness of the benefits of digital tools. At present, many farmers do not understand how the introduction of new technologies will benefit them, and as such, further training will be helpful in encouraging farmers to utilise new tools.