CAIRO: Only 18 percent of encroachments on more than 63,747 feddans (87,970 acres) of farmland have been removed since 2011, according to a report released Monday by the Agriculture Ministry.
Encroachments, which include bulldozing, construction, and silos, have amounted to 1.4 million cases; as such violations went rampant during the security vacuum following 2011’s upheaval.
However, and despite harsher jail and fine penalties, incidents of violating arable land continue at a smaller scope after security tightened in the country.
The Agriculture Ministry coordinates with the Housing Ministry, the Local Development Ministry and the police to detect and remove the encroachments.
Former Agriculture Minister Adel al-Beltagy said the Nile Delta, the most fertile region in Egypt, would disappear within 60 years if farmland encroachments continue.
At the reported rate of farmland loss to urbanization, Egyptian scientist Farouk el-Baz warned during a 2014 lecture in Cairo University that Egypt may lose its entire arable land in a span of 183 years.
A 2011 United Nations report on desertification and drought listed Egypt as the most vulnerable country in the world to losing its agricultural area with 3.5 feddans lost every hour.