Egyptian scientists have produced a new variety of basmati rice that consumes less water than the average species, paving the way to start cultivating the new variation with plans to release it on the market next year and even start exporting it abroad.
According to Alaa Khalil, director of the Field Crops Research Institute at the Ministry of Agriculture, older varieties of basmati rice consume 7,000 to 8,000 cubic meters of water per feddan, while this newer species consumes 5,000 cubic meters of water. Good for the planet and good for the economy. As of right now, Egypt imports basmati rice from Asian countries at a cost of over $100 million annually. With this new cultivation effort, basmati rice imports to Egypt will likely decrease. Not only that, but big players like India will have to watch out for competition.
Last October, India tried to apply for the GI tag of basmati in the European Union, which basically means that they would be the sole exporters of the rice breed. Luckily, Pakistan was able to overturn their application, leaving Egypt room to enter into the basmati rice market.