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The mechanics of land reform

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  • james armstrong
    From ‘The Middle East’ by Sydney Nettleton Fisher (Land Reform in independent Egypt) In September 1952 the Cabinet (of Egypt ) decreed a new agrarian
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2010

      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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