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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 20 of the funniest online reviews ever
- 14 Biggest lies people tell in online dating sites
- Hilarious things Google thinks you're trying to search for