Unfair trade and market policies make the Egyptian cotton farmers bear extreme losses


Land Center for Human Rights

Once again, the governmental policies contradict regarding the marketing of Egyptian cotton. Farmers do not know what are they asked to do in this regard? The government has obligated Behira farmers to grow cotton, the Ministry of Agriculture distributed cotton seeds among the farmers to be used in their lands, and companies bought part of the cotton production, but refused to take the rest with the agreed price of 860 pounds per quintal.

The marketing companies refused to take this cotton claiming it was hybrid “not original” as the seeds that the Ministry has distributed among the farmers were defected, and international market policies prevent using such crops in the import and export process. International market and trade policies have led to a conflict among big and small companies, making them use any means necessary to succeed, which have contributed in ruining farmers conditions especially in Egypt.

There must be specified and clear agricultural policies at the beginning of each season. It is unreasonable to discuss the problem today, after the farmers have grown the cotton. It is also unfair that the farmers bear the losses alone, especially that the Ministry is responsible for this crisis. The farmers have to pay very expensive rents that reach 3000 pounds per feddan, they also have to payback the loans they took from the Bank for Development and Agrarian Trust with interests that reach 15%. They also paid for kerosene, which is very expensive, and also paid for the plowing and irrigation expenses.

This tragedy caused by the Ministry of Agriculture effects more than half a million farmers. The farmers can’t find anyone to buy their cotton, and the cotton they have produced is being ruined by the bad weather. The government’s contradicting agrarian policies will lead to the destruction of the Egyptian agriculture.

Farmers assert that there is no agrarian supervision or observation, as they are given different types of cotton seeds that are hybrid and contain GMOs, which lead to producing bad qualities of cotton.

The LCHR urges the Ministry of Agriculture to reconsider its agricultural plans and make clear policies to let the farmers know exactly what they should do in each agrarian season, and also provide this sector with subsidies. As in the nineties, Egypt used to grow cotton on 2 million feddans of land, today it is growing cotton on 400 thousand feddans, and in a few years, it will be 150 thousand feddans., which will negatively effect the textile, oil and soap industries in Egypt. Consequently, effecting millions of workers all over Egypt.

The Ministry should specify a guaranteed price for next year’s cotton production, considering the expenses of the whole agrarian process, and it should bear the price differences in case they were less, the Ministry should also form a committee to study the laws and regulations that organize the production, manufacture, trade and marketing of cotton. This committee must include farmers and representatives from agrarian associations, receiver companies, trade union and the Ministries of Agriculture, Trade and Industry.

LCHR demands the Prime Minister to interfere in this matter and take the cotton from the farmers, regardless of any justifications made by the Minister of Agriculture, as the farmers used the seeds that the Ministry of Agriculture provided them with. This Ministry is also the one that allowed companies to import such hybrid seeds. This also includes the marketing companies who reduced the cotton price wanting to buy it with 400 pounds per quintal, claiming that this cotton has an unnatural color.

LCHR asks the Ministry of Agriculture and the officials in both public and private companies to buy this cotton from the farmers, at least with last year’s price to prevent the farmers from facing such extreme losses, leading to their imprisonment.

LCHR hopes that the relevant governmental authorities compensate the farmers for their losses and make new and better agrarian policies that protect agriculture and farmers rights in Egypt.

For more information, please contact the Center.

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