CAIRO: Encroachments upon 22 arable feddans out of 53 detected in three days have been removed, according to a Monday statement by the Agriculture Ministry.
Over Dec. 25-27, encroachments amounted to 1,330 cases; only 426 of which have been removed. Of the violations, 99 were removed in Qalyubia, 71 in Sharqia, 49 in Beni Suef and one in Giza.
The government is fighting an epidemic of encroachments upon arable lands, including bulldozing, construction, and silos, threatening the shrinking arable land in the country. The infringements have increased after the January upheaval in 2011.
The rate of encroachments surpass efforts to remove and prevent them; 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.
Only 18 percent of encroachments on more than 63,747 feddans (87,970 acres) of farmland have been removed since 2011, according to an earlier report by the Ministry of Agriculture. Despite harsher jail and fine penalties, incidents of violating arable land continue at a smaller scope after security tightened in the country.