In addition to increasing poverty among farmers, during the past period, the Egyptian government traded in lands owned to the agrarian reform corporation, as a continuance of implementing the markets liberating policies in the field of agriculture. Who will protect farmers rights in the safety of their lands?
Under the continuance of implementing the markets liberating policies adopted by the Egyptian government especially in the field of agriculture, have led to great losses in the farmers incomes especially the cotton and onion farmers last year, as the losses of the onion farmers are estimated with about 75% of their income total, while the losses of the cotton farmers are estimated with about 50% of their income total compared with the previous year.
The government has violated the farmers rights in participation because of the absence of the role of the agrarian associations in supporting development or protecting their interests and rights, the continue of these policies have led to a huge increase in the prices of fertilizers and irrigation water as a result of the increase of the prices of kerosene and the other production requirements, and the yearly rental value of one acre of land has increased from 70 pounds in 1992 to 3000 pounds in 2004 which is more than 15 times the value before implementing the law, at the same time, the prices of the agrarian crops have decreased (cotton, onion, potato) which have led to more poverty among farmers who become unable of paying back the debts of the agrarian development and trust bank that give farmers loans with interests more than 15%, which sometimes lead to the imprisonment of thousands of farmers.
Lately, some local and international reports have confirmed that more than 20 million Egyptians live in the countryside whose daily income is less than one dollar.
In addition to increasing poverty among farmers, during the past period, the government traded in lands owned to the agrarian reform corporation, these lands were taken over by the big owners, as the LCHR has received hundreds of farmers complaints from “El Sa’deya El Gedeeda, Ketama, Dongoway, Ezbet El Fashasha, Abo Galal, Monshat Moubarak and Kafr Shehata villages – Sherbeen station – El Daqahleya province, demanding the Minister of Agriculture to protect their rights in owning their agrarian lands according to the conditions and regulations stated by the law, especially when they have presented the conditions booklets to buy these lands that they farm, the value of an acre was estimated with a sum of 8000 pounds, but the agrarian reform corporation has lately increased the price of an acre to 35000 pounds although some farmers in these villages have owned some of these lands with the old price, in addition to that, these peasants farm these lands for more than 40 years, they have contributed in improving them, stopping their deterioration and saltiness, increasing their fertility and solving the irrigation water problems, after the corporation took these lands from the big owners and distributed them on farmers with areas between 1 – 3 acres.
Although the LCHR has filed a lawsuit for one of the farmers to re-estimate the value of the agrarian land, the court has issued a decision no. 658 civilian estimating the acre price with 8000 pounds, and what also confirm the tenants rights in their demands, is clause no. 11 of the law no. 178 for the year 1952 modified by the law – section 168 for the year 1958, this clause has been modified according to the law no. 138 for the year 1964.
By the court decision and the previously mentioned laws, it appears that the Egyptian law protects small farmers, but the public corporation for the agrarian reform violate the law and exaggerate in estimating the land prices.
It is worth mentioning that some of these farmers have presented the conditions booklets to the mentioned corporation and others have paid several installments of the lad price when estimated with 8000 pounds, at the same time the corporation was receiving rental values from them.
Although, some decisions were issued for the benefit of farmers by some conflict settlement committees that stated the farmers eligibility in buying the lands with a sum of 8000 pounds, and despite the world’s increasing interest in farmers rights in owning lands, guaranteeing their rights in safe land possession, supporting and reinforcing their rights in managing these lands, guaranteeing access to resources, supporting and providing them with the agrarian requirements and irrigation water, and despite the issuance of decisions by the court of cassation and constitutionality for the benefit of small farmers, their eligibility in owning lands and the necessity of distributing these lands on them with fair prices (challenge no. 63/26 judicial), but the Ministry of Agriculture has violated the decisions of the law and the Egyptian judiciary, as it is still and till now procrastinating and confiscating on farmers to force them to pay a higher value than the legal one.
The LCHR demands the Minister of Agriculture to let the farmers of Sherbeen station own their lands as an implementation of the law and court decisions and guarantee their rights in safe land possession and a decent life.
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