Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever

Perish the thought
Hold the farawla bil ishta.  The highly qualified agricultural experts of Tahrir have identified the root cause of Egypt's food problems.  The cause is not the 85 million inhabitants haphazardly living along the narrow Nile valley, the country's finite water resources, nor the distortive control and command policies that have dictated how, when, where and at what price farmers can grow and sell crops.  The cause is strawberries.

Capitalist-flavored shisha
Never mind that strawberries grow on approximately 0.00175% of Egypt's cultivated land. Never mind that the Egyptian strawberry industry is underpinned by a natural competitive advantage attributable to the country's warmth and location, which enables the delicious red berries to hit the domestic and European markets before surrounding producers can do so. Never mind Egypt is one of the top strawberry producers in the world, with products successfully marketed as far away as China. And never mind that the staple cereals that the revolutionary "experts" would like to have replace the strawberries are much more cheaply imported into Egypt, rather than seeking to re-produce the rolling plains of the American Midwest or East Asian rice paddies in a cramped river delta surrounded by an endless expanse of desert.