Egypt is currently undergoing a severe economic crisis. One key reason is that it is importing much of the grain needed to feed its population (and livestock), and this has become expensive/difficult as a consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On the other hand, during the times of the Roman Empire, Egypt was known as the "Breadbasket of the Mediterranean", and responsible for a significant fraction of the overall grain production of the entire Empire.

Besides some vague idea of desertification of North Africa being an important factor, how did this happen? When did Egypt move from net-exporter of grain to net-importer?

  • Are you expecting a single answer covering two thousand years of history?
    – SJuan76
    Mar 19 at 21:54
  • @SJuan76 Sure, one could write a book to answer this, but it seems at least very plausible to me that there is reasonable answer to this in the stack exchange format. A few sentences on other key factors besides desertification, and some rough dates as to when stuff happened.
    – Arno
    Mar 19 at 22:41
  • Part, but by far not all, of the answer : worldometers.info/world-population/egypt-population
    – Evargalo
    Mar 20 at 9:41
  • 1
    Nowadays Egypt has 36.000 km2 of arable land. Ukraine has 347.000 km2 and Russia 1.265.000 km2 of arable land. Maybe it is just that Ukraine and Russia were not yet fully cultivated 2000 years ago. Egypt lands were enough in ancient times to feed a small population, but for current population, you need lands of Russia ans Ukraine as well.
    – Santiago
    Mar 20 at 12:43
  • @Santiago - It seems like covering the period of the switchover (from exporter to importer) would be sufficient.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 20 at 14:00


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