23 fertile feddans lost to encroachments in 24 hours in Nile Delta, Valley
A piece of arable land (YOUM7/ Archive)

CAIRO: Encroachments committed upon fertile land Monday occupied up to 23 feddans (23.9 acres,) according to a Tuesday report by the Agriculture Ministry.

The violations in 24 hours amounted to 535 cases; 191 have been removed from eight feddans. Most removals took place in Sharqia and Menoufia in the Delta then Asyut in Upper Egypt.

Encroachments on farmland include bulldozing, construction, and silos, threatening the shrinking arable land in the country. Farmers try to benefit from extensive urbanization in Egypt, complaining that agriculture does not yield as much as construction.

The vast majority of Egypt’s arable lands lie in the Nile Delta and Valley, and encroachments occur almost on daily basis. 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.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi launched in December 2015 the first phase of a national mega project to expand the country’s farmland by 1.5 million feddans.

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