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Diagnosis and Challenges of Sustainable Agricultural Development in Egypt

Soliman, Ibrahim (2015): Diagnosis and Challenges of Sustainable Agricultural Development in Egypt. Published in: Sustainable Agricultural Development, Cooperative Management (20 June 2015): pp. 19-64.

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Abstract

Sustainable agricultural development seeks not only to preserve and maintain natural resources, but also to develop them, as future generations would have much more demand quantity-wise and quality-wise for agricultural and food products. Such goals should ensure a balance with the development of livelihoods enjoyed by the individuals concerned. Livelihood should not be restricted to an indicator of sufficient income levels but should also include public health concerns and education standards. The objective of this study was therefore to diagnose the challenges facing sustainable agricultural development in Egypt. The analysis examined six dimensions: trade trends with an emphasis on agricultural trade; rural poverty indicators and causes; degradation of agricultural resources (soil and irrigation water); agricultural labor employment in relation to migration and the technological packages adopted; public health criteria; and education indicators. The final section was allocated for a profile of the strategy towards rural development. The deficit in the trade balance showed an increase due to the deterioration of Egyptian exports in the world market, in particular the EU, due to the impacts of non-tariff barriers. Inequalities and rural poverty showed the extent of the unequal distribution of agricultural resources. They also demonstrated whether or not income generated from agriculture was capable of alleviating poverty in small-scale farming households and whether or not poverty in rural Egypt runs deeper than in urban areas. The appraisal of the degradation in natural resources focused on agricultural land and irrigation water. Whereas the agricultural land resources analysis concerned social and economic attitudes as well as the deterioration in soil fertility and quality, the analysis dealt with the types of quantitative and qualitative waste in irrigation water resources. Worrying demographic issues were examined via migration trends and unemployment indicators as well as through the labor force and employment by sector. Public health indicators showed that the imbalance between access to piped water and the sanitation network in rural regions was the worst of all Egyptian regions. While piped water reached 97 % of rural households, only one-third of them have access to the sanitation network and only 13 % of rural households in Upper Egypt had access to sanitation in 2008. The public health indicators recorded 30 beds and 13 doctors for every 10,000 citizens in major cities, there were fewer than 20 beds and 2 doctors per 10,000 citizens in rural towns. Surprisingly, there is a higher ratio of nurses to doctors in rural regions than in urban regions in Egypt. This implies a lack of doctors in rural regions and the preference of rural women to work as nurses in the vicinity of their home villages for social reasons, in particular the fact that other employment opportunities in rural areas for women are rare. Literacy rate estimates would appear to show that the lowest literacy rate is in rural Upper Egypt at about 57 % and that the highest rate is in urban Lower Egypt at around 79 %. The literacy gap between rural and urban areas in Egypt nevertheless fell from 45 % in 1995 to less than 21 % in 2010. The study was concluded with the definition of a profile for a strategy aimed at rural development in Egypt including a proposed program to alleviate poverty.

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