Modern Egyptian Farming Techniques

Written by dawn leslie
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
Modern Egyptian Farming Techniques
The River Nile. ( Images)

Since the time of the pharaohs, the Nile Delta has been the heart of Egypt's farmland. For centuries, farmers timed planting and harvesting on the rise and fall of the Nile. When the Aswan High Dam opened in 1970, Egyptian farming changed forever. Herodotus, historian of the ancient world, wrote in his History, c442 B. C. , " (if) the Nile no longer floods, for all time to come, Egyptians will suffer."

Other People Are Reading


Traditionally, Egyptian farmers used the shaduf, a hand-operated machine for lifting water from a higher to lower area. This simple technology allowed them to irrigate fields when the river was not in flood and plant on higher ground. With the rich sediment deposited by the Nile flood, the soil was fertilised annually. Now soil rich in trace elements goes to the bottom of the Nassar Reservoir. Since the Aswan dam opened, soil exhaustion and salinity has led to heavy usage of artificial fertilisers. Farmers use 465kg. of fertiliser per year on a feddan (a 2-acre plot).

Modern Egyptian Farming Techniques
Moving water with a shaduf around 1880. ( Images)


Access to clean water is an issue for Egypt's small farmers. In November 2010, CNN reported farmers in the village of Abul Nour used untreated sewage water to save dying crops. Although a government program distributes irrigation water to farmers, limited central planning and corruption mean wealthy landowners get priority, according to a 2006 report from the Canadian IDRC development agency. CNN reported that 50 years ago, Egypt had 2,100 cubic meters of water per capita annually, and today it has less than 800.

Modern Egyptian Farming Techniques
Rainfall measuring device on the Nile River. ( Images)

Agriculture in the Economy

In 1952, a coup replaced Egypt's monarchy with a republic. Prior to that, the country's economy was primarily agricultural. A 1999 UN country profile cites only one third of Egypt's GDP (gross domestic product) was from agriculture. Half the nation's food was imported. In a population of 83 million, 43.4 per cent are now urban dwellers. Many farmers have given up life on the land to search for stable income. Those who work the land are slow to adopt modern techniques without financial security.

Child Labor

Although laws prohibit child labour under fifteen, in practice many farm workers are younger. A Marketplace report broadcast July 7, 2010 found children in cotton fields who'd begun at age five. They use backpack pesticide sprayers, a hazard to growing children. Inspectors have no power to check on farms under five acres, and the majority of Egypt's cotton farms are smaller. Nivine Osman of the World Food Program is heading a campaign against child labour in Egypt, according to the Marketplace program. One goal is to label agriculture a hazardous occupation, enabling inspectors to check labour conditions.

Organic Farming

The Sekem foundation maintains an organic farm project about 60km northeast of Cairo, where desert reclamation has developed a thriving community. About 1,500 Egyptians are employed in the eight companies producing organic food, phytopharmaceutical (botanically based) medicine and textiles. It was founded by Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish in 1977. The model is holistic, with schools, clinics and research facilities available to the community. The Sekem initiative received the 2003 Alternative Nobel Prize award, for promoting sustainable development in Egypt.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.