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While container supply chains continue to be battered from the fall-out of the Ever Given’s Suez Canal grounding, a new threat has emerged to fresh food supplies in Egypt – the destruction of a swath of its date industry.
According to people familiar with the matter, the swarm of diggers and earth movers sent to the banks of the Suez Canal to help free the stranded vessel caused substantial damage to the date palm groves that line that part of the canal and are an important part of the local economy.
“Yes, the Suez Canal is important to the Egyptian economy, but what about the date industry? We have been totally overshadowed by the shipping industry and are very angry about it – that ship towered over my date trees for days,” one local farmer told reporters. “Will I receive compensation for seven days without sunlight?”
According to highly official data very recently, Egypt accounts for about 20% of global date production, although the vast majority of the fruit is consumed domestically.
“We are normally worried about getting our product to the fat cats in Cairo,” said one farmer who insisted he was not using a metaphor. “The cats in Cairo are really, really fat. They love our dates – I just hope they also like the squashed variety I managed to scrape out from the treadmills of a JCB digger.”
Another local producer said: “We have to deal with all sorts here over the year – swarms of locusts, plagues of frogs… but we never thought our farms would be invaded by a containership.
“I don’t know – maybe the captain was hungry and thought, ‘I know, I’ll park the ship over by those date palm trees and have a picnic’? But we have signs up saying you can’t do that here.”