The mechanics of land reform
From ‘The Middle East ’ by Sydney Nettleton Fisher
(Land Reform in independent Egypt )
In September 1952 the Cabinet (of Egypt ) decreed a new agrarian law, restricting land-ownership to 200 acres , and stating that the government over the ensuing five years would expropriate excess lands beginning with the largest estates. Compensation in the form of three per cent government bonds would be at the rate of ten times the annual rental value of the land. Until lands were seized by the government , owners would be taxed at five times their normal rates , although owners might sell lands in five-acre lots, to farmers owning less than ten acres. Land taken by the government was to be sold in two- to –five acre tracts to farmers owning less than five acres. The price was fixed at fifteen percent above the compensation price and was to be paid over a thirty-year period. at three per cent interest.
…..…The population of Egypt in 1956 numbered about 22,000,000 and was increasing by 500,000 every year. Without a parallel increase in economic output the standard of living remained in a most precarious state. Thus the most pressing problems for Nasser were economic. …
So anxious on the question of land distribution were the leaders that after the departure of King Faruk they brought forth precipitously the land reform measures. Implementation however, progressed slowly. In December 1952 a loan of £E200,000,000 at 3 per cent for thirty years was authorized to finance land transfers, but in four years less than 200,000 acres were appropriated by the government and put into the hands of the peasants Landowner opposition and likelihood of reduced production on broken estates deterred a government already hard pressed by the realities of politics and economics.
(Compare settlement in the Sudan )
..the setting up of the Gezira irrigation project in Sudan in 1925, which had been envisaged in 1900 by Kitchener projected the irrigation of the triangular stretch of land to the south of Khartum between the Blue and White Niles. Much preliminary work was done in soil testing and general planning. …the Sennar dam.. completion.. did not come until 1925.irrigating 300,000 acres of a possible 2,000,000 acres by gravity flow , with management in the hands of Sudan Plantation Syndicate. .. Land tenancies were established at forty acres each , two thirds of which could be planted to vegetables, grains and fodders which would be the tax-free property of the tenants.. The remaining one third had to be planted with cotton.of which the tenant , the Syndicate and the Sudan government received 40 per cent, 25 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.
The government rented land at about fifty cents an acre from the original owners and then assigned forty acre tracts to the applicants By 1939 the tenants on the average were receiving about $ 250 as their share from the sale of the cotton crop. …
The Gezira scheme was highly successful….
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