Egyptian Land Reform

April 21, 2010World Agricultureby EconomyWatch

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After the Revolution in the year 1952, got over, Egyptian Land Reform concentrated on ownership rights in the country. The Revolution, which took place in the year 1952, was under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Egypt before 1952:

Approximately, 65 percent of the land was owned by various sects of people in Egypt before the Revolution. The total percentage of land was owned only by 6% of the Egyptian population. Since the owners were major shareholders of the total agricultural land in Egypt, they exercised their monopoly by charging unreasonable rents from the tenants. The rent amount fetched 75 percent of the revenue earned from landed property, which were put on rent. High rates of interest, which the banks charged along with high rents compelled the peasants to delve deep into debts.

The wage received by the agricultural workers was not enough to support their livelihood. This gave rise to the situation, often referred to as " Pre reform Egyptian Peasantry". This term was coined by the famous historian Anouar Abdel Malek. The situation refers to a condition when a handful of people are subjected to illness, starvation and ultimate death. The condition of these forlorn peasants can be compared to the condition of the peasants prior to the French Revolution.

Egyptian Land reform started with Law Number 178:

Law number 178, initiated the process of Egyptian land reform. The law was introduced with a view of improving upon the land reform system in the country. Provisions put forward by the law are given under:

  • Possessing land exceeding 200 feddans was not permitted. This was applicable for the land owners.
  • It was decided that to avoid discrepancies, landed property would be rented out for a rate, which would be seven times that of the value of land tax, for the rented land.
  • Leasing out of landed property was allowed for a minimum period of 3 years.
  • Cooperatives were built to assist farmers, who possessed land not more than 5 feddans. These cooperatives assisted the farmers by providing them with pesticides, seeds, fertilizers. The cooperatives took the responsibility of marketing the agricultural products.
  • It was decided that the minimum wage, an agricultural worker would receive for a day would be 18 piastres.
  • The law also assigned ceilings with regard to possession of land. As per the Law 178, any person possessing more than the specified limit of the land would be facing disinvestment.
Redistribution of land under Egyptian land reform:

In the event when a landlord or a land owner would exceed the ceiling, the land would be diveted and a compensation would be given to the landlord against disinvestment. The compensation would be provided not in cash but in the form of bonds issued by the government. A single person could avail only 5 feddans of landed property from the government.

Law 178, was not approved of, in the initial stages because of the limit of land allotment and ownership of land. The Prime Minister wanted assignment of 500 feddans of land.

Alterations made in Egyptian land reform:

Revision of the following three provisions were made in the year 1958. They are:

  • For purchasing land from the government, people were required to make the full payment in forty years as compared to thirty years earlier.
  • Purchasers were required to pay lower surcharge. The surcharge was brought down to 10 percent.

Revision of Egyptian land reform took place again in the year 1961.