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Agriculture represents one of the most important economic sectors in Egypt in regard of job opportunities, as it absorbs more than 30% of the labour force and contributes with about 20-30% of GDP. The agriculture sector provides about 63% of citizens’ needs of food. Family farming is the prevailing pattern in agriculture production particularly in old lands, whereas in newly reclaimed lands this pattern exists among beneficiaries (small-scale farmers) settled in these lands, since graduates hire labourers or rent their lands to others. Family farming is based upon gender division of labour, as men are entitled to land preparation, irrigation, fertilization and pesticides, while women take care of animal and poultry production activities. There are some activities carried out by both genders (i.e. harvesting and post harvesting activities, marketing). Rural youth are not fully engaged in agricultural activities, their contribution is considered "seasonal farming activities" (i.e. harvesting and post harvesting activities). The land holdings are fragmented with an average farm size of 2.5 feddans. Rural inhabitants represent about 57% of total population and the agricultural working force is about 27%.

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The geographical environment affects the division of labour and the roles played by family members, for instance in Upper Egypt the role of women is limited to domestic agricultural activities (i.e. poultry raising, milking) and they are not allowed to participate in farming activities.
The division of labour among family members include two dimensions: social and economic, with the social dimension supporting family participation and contribution, strengthening social solidarity among family members and deepening the sense of collective responsibility. The second dimension, the economic, is related to the unpaid wages to the head of the family for farm management and to family members for conducting and participating in farming activities.
In family farming the type and size of farm costs varies according to the farm size and the type of production activity, as the fixed costs mainly increase in small farms and fruit farms, while variable costs particularly increase in poultry and animal farms.

The policies targeted at improving family farmers’ conditions are included within the context of  the Sustainable Agricultural Development Strategy (SADS) 2030 and have the following objectives:

  1. Increasing the efficiency of irrigation water resources by applying rational irrigation practices, improving and modernizing field irrigation system in Delta, and improving field irrigation management in new lands to reach an efficiency improvement of about 75% in 2017.
  2. Dealing with agricultural landholdings’ fragmentation by mobilizing and sharing their management, encouraging small farmers’ organizations and improving agricultural cooperatives.
  3. Limitation of agricultural lands violations via deterrent laws and legislations, by relating land protection policies with land distribution ones, besides the construction of settled areas.
  4. Strengthen agriculture with effective small-scale farmers’ institutions by adjusting the current agricultural cooperatives’ conditions and establishing farmers’ associations.
  5. Enhancing agricultural scientific research institutions and extension services in order to support agricultural development, through increasing allocated financial resources and increasing cooperation and coordination between research and extension.
  6. Utilization of scientific progress in ICTs.
  7. Reduction of losses in agriculture production by acquiring new varieties that can stand marketing processes, and improving post harvesting systems and dissemination of its knowledge among farmers, establishing storage silos and refrigerators, all this being  done through contract farming.
  8. Help the agriculture sector to adapt to climate change through studying the effects of increasing temperatures on dates crop cultivation and water amounts, besides studying the socio-economic impacts of climate change i.e. migration patterns.
  9. Support agricultural products’ competitiveness in local and international markets by applying quality standards, dissemination of post harvesting processes in light of these standards by studying market’s needs and by enhancing extension services, finally by improving marketing infrastructure and services.
  10. Improve agricultural investment’s environment, which requires coordination and cooperation between the Ministry of agriculture and land reclamation and other relevant Ministries to reduce obstacles facing agriculture investments.
  11. Enhance rural people's livelihoods by improving infrastructure and other services i.e. health, education, and by improving agricultural cooperatives and farmers organizations, encouraging contract farming system, improving extension services, enhancing women's role in various developmental aspects, encouraging agriculture industrialization and rural tourism, and creating new financial and lending institutions that pays attention to small farmers, finally shifting from the "mono-sectoral" development to include other sectors within an integral framework, and taking into consideration conditions and developmental potentials in each area.

One of the priority areas in SADs is enhancing the standard of living of rural inhabitants, that is a major concern within the national overall development objectives, policies and programs. The related responsibilities are divided among several Ministries and institutions, particularly in relation to the establishment of infrastructures such as roads, electricity, drinking water and sewage, as well as the basic services such as education, health and environment protection. Consequently, developing the infrastructure and services in rural areas is a high in the national development strategy.

The main objective is to take the rural areas out of the restricted one-sided “agricultural” development and place them within a wider perspective involving the different production and services sectors in an integrated framework, in accordance with the conditions and capacities of each area. The main priorities to achieve this objective can be summarized as follows:

  • Diversifying job opportunities and economic activities through encouraging agriculture-related activities and projects in rural areas;
  • Planning new agricultural expansion areas on the basis of diversifying activities and projects, for the establishment of integrated agricultural, manufacturing and service communities;
  • Supporting and developing small rural handicrafts and industries, leading to the creation of more job opportunities and improving income levels;
  • Maximizing the utilization of agricultural plant and animal residues, and converting them to useful materials and an added economic value (such as fertilizers, animal feed and energy), thus contributing to environmental improvement and cleanliness;
  • Supporting and developing small farmers’ institutions, particularly as related to marketing, in order to improve their bargaining powers in buying agricultural inputs and selling their products;
  • Involving small farmers in export activities, in order to improve their returns and incomes, and develop their agricultural knowledge and practices; and
  • Activating the role of women in the different rural development areas.

 

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North South Consultants Exchange (NSCE) is a consultancy firm registered in Egypt in 1988, and is currently a partner of FAO RI on SSFF in NENA. Its mission is to contribute through consulting services to the quality of life improvements and economic welfare of people and communities...
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