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LCHR’s Workshop entitled: Will the financial crisis of the Egyptian agriculture come to an end?
LCHR’s Workshop entitled: Will the financial crisis of the Egyptian agriculture come to an end?
On Thursday, 12/3/2009 the Land Center for Human Rights has held seminar about the global economic and financial crisis and the Egyptian agriculture "opportunities and challenges" The meeting was attended by 73 participants from the governorates of Giza, 6th of October, Beni Suef, Dakahliya, Monoufia, Fayyoum, Behira, Gharbeya, Menya, Sohag, Qena and Cairo. Among the attendance there were rural civil societies who represented 60%, 20% of farmers, 10% of journalists and 10% of academics
Thursday, March 26,2009 11:58

On Thursday, 12/3/2009 the Land Center for Human Rights has held seminar about the global economic and financial crisis and the Egyptian agriculture "opportunities and challenges" The meeting was attended by 73 participants from the governorates of Giza, 6th of October, Beni Suef, Dakahliya, Monoufia, Fayyoum, Behira, Gharbeya, Menya, Sohag, Qena and Cairo. Among the attendance there were rural civil societies who represented 60%, 20% of farmers, 10% of journalists and 10% of academics and trade unionists, peasant leaders and unions.

The seminar started with a word by Dr. Osama Bedier (LCHR), who welcomed the attendance at the new Land Center office and wish them every success. He added that this seminar comes in the light of deteriorating economic conditions in the whole world, the State of both developed and developing countries including Egypt, which led to the collapse of the financial sector and the subsequent heavy losses up to trillions of dollars on the international stock markets, where the U.S. economy had the biggest share of these losses because it is the engine of the economies of the world. 

Bedier said that Egypt was affected greatly by what happened in the last quarter of 2008, and still vulnerable and will continue through the next two years, at least according to what economists expected, and this is a vulnerability in a sharp downturn in the four summits, the income of the Suez Canal, tourism revenues, oil and the remittances of Egyptians working abroad, and the Egyptian economy suffered from the decline in the growth rates achieved over the previous three years. 

He stressed the need to adopt a number of recommendations and action programs applicable under the current circumstances, to contribute to the reduction of the negative effects of the global economic and financial crisis in the countryside. 

The first session discussed the global economic and financial crisis, development programs and the conditions of economic, social and cultural rights in Egypt (negatives and positives), chaired by Mr. Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr (Vice-Chairman of the Arab and African Research Center), who confirmed that the global financial crisis is the product of the control of the capital on the economies of the savage the world, since Egypt and its economy continued to be subject to the global economy, the impact would be catastrophic, especially if we add the control of the government that is responsible for the conduct of life of citizens and policy-making related to all walks of life. 

Then spoke Dr. Ahmad Thabit (Chair of the Ibn Rushd Center for Development, and Professor of Political Science, Cairo University), he reviewed the impact of the global financial and economic crisis to the current economic, social and cultural rights, which is a decline in the growth rate of 6% to 3% at the beginning of 2009, declining employment and rising unemployment, high proportion of poor people, and the continuing decline in health and education services to increase the possibility of non-availability of funds, lack of capacity to address regional disparities in development, especially the provinces of Upper Egypt. 

He reviewed the political aspects of the crisis in Egypt under the emergency law and restrictions on the right to form parties, trade unions, associations and newspapers and the lack of devolution of power in the political institutions of the State. 

He fixed the magnitude of the global economic crisis and the seriousness of their negative effects on the socio-economic rights, and accused the government of failing to identify clear and concrete alternatives to the retreat of foreign investment, but also to substantial funds out of foreign investors from the stock market under the weight of the crisis on one hand, and free from restrictions and practices of bribery and corruption commission and the administrative and financial and politically, on the other. 

Then spoke Dr. Ahmed Al-Najar (editor-in-chief of the economic report in Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies), where he stressed that Egyptian economy is affected by the crisis, where foreign investments flow fell by about 30% in the first quarter of fiscal year 2008/2009, as exports fell, and opportunities to borrow from abroad, as well as the loss of individuals and institutions from the deposits or investments in financial or real estate abroad, and financial losses in the Egyptian Stock Exchange, and the low exchange rate of the Egyptian Pound for foreign currencies. 

He wondered: is this crisis temporary or it occurred as a result of the rule of the capitalist system in the complete absence of the principles of transparency, control and accounting of securities and the mixing of political and economic, so that employers receive more than three-quarters of the output of the productive process. 

Then spoke Dr. Sharif Fayyad (Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics of the Desert Center), he said that the agriculture sector, like any other economic sector in the national economy to those affected by the crisis, and the negative impact on the sector will cause a lot of damage on the national economy as the agriculture sector is of the key sectors that depend on exports, such as food industries, textiles, yarn and garments. 

Fayyad added that the agriculture sector is of the sectors that employ many workers as it absorbed about 26% of the number of workers during the year 2006/2007, as well as providing food security, as it the major and direct source for the production of food, and contributed about 14.1% of the local GDP in 2006/2007. 

After that, discussions were held among the participants about the repercussions of the global financial crisis on the Egyptian economy, and ways to counteract its negative impact on all sectors of the economy, and governmental actions taken to reduce those effects. 

Then started the second session, chaired by Mrs. Shahenda Mekled (one of the founders of the Farmers Union under construction), he centered: the escalation of global financial and economic crisis and its effects on the various requirements and the costs of agricultural production and profits of farmers and on wages, employment and unemployment in the Egyptian countryside, where Shahenda confirmed that the farmer Egypt is the backbone of the national economy, promote and push forward with the whole nation, and she wondered what they have now failed government policies led to a striking Egyptian agriculture the backbone of the national economy in accordance with the agenda of international intrigues to the Egyptians by the international system had lost its head and collapsed in the global financial systems of its own.

Then spoke Dr. Kholi Kholi Salem (Professor of Rural Sociology, Faculty of Agriculture Al-Azhar University in Cairo), stressing the importance of this important event, since it affects a broad cross-section of Egyptian society who are the farmers of Egypt, concerning the current situation and future of agriculture in Egypt under the conditions of global, regional and local highly volatile and agitation. 

Kholi said that the global financial crisis has its negative effects on the Egyptian economy, however, it has more negative effects on the agricultural sector even more dangerous because of the wide and broad base that will be adversely affected by this crisis, agricultural producers who are of different types ranging from small farms and ending with major agricultural companies, but what concerns us is and the small farmer who has been damaged by exposure to agricultural and economic policies in light of economic liberalization. 

Then spoke Dr. Osama Bahnasawi (Professor of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Agriculture Al-Azhar University in Cairo), pointing out that the agricultural sector of the key sectors in the national economy as a sector in charge of food security, and a staff of about 30% of the total labor force, and contributes about 15% of the gross domestic product. The value of agricultural production at current prices in 2006, about 96.8 billion pounds, and agricultural exports contribute about 20% of total exports. 

Bahnasawi pointed out that the agricultural sector has achieved a steady increase in the volume of investments directed to him as they reached about 6.4 billion pounds in 2005/2006, increased to about 8.6 billion in 2006/2007, representing around 6.3% of the total investment for the year. 

However, he drew attention to the fact that the consequences affecting the agricultural sector are not due to the current global financial crisis as much as due to the crisis of agricultural policy in place. 

Then spoke Dr. Mohamed Sayed Mohamed (Researcher at the Center of Agricultural Research, and Scientific Adviser to Al Naba"a Al Arabi newspaper), explaining the reasons for the global financial crisis and how it evolved and led to the economic crisis sweeping the world and link between the financial crisis, food, and in this context, he / Mohamed to that with the beginning of 2008 the world has witnessed a wave of higher food prices in an unprecedented way and it was in the face of rising inflation rates, according to United Nations estimates global food prices rose by 35% over the year until January 2008 to accelerate significantly the pace of the upward trend that began timidly in 2002, and since then, prices rose by 65% and wheat prices jumped nearly 181% within three years, and food prices 83% in the same period. He attributed the wave of high prices to such low supply of the quantities of agricultural crops and higher fuel prices to record levels, leading to riots and violence in a large number of poor countries and developing countries. He stressed that it is expected that the agricultural sector and in the global food crisis has been greatly affected in several areas including: the decline in exports of agricultural products and agro-processing of the inability of local banks to open new export credits, and the inability of foreign banks in the countries of export to meet the payment of the value of these products. He stressed the need to increase the master of public expenditures with reordering of priorities to bring the sector to invest in particular sectors of agriculture, industry, and not for the infrastructure if the Government wanted to limit the negative effects of that crisis. 

The participants had a focused discussions on the need for the government to provide agricultural production so as to allow the farmer to obtain the right price and in a timely manner, especially in light of the crisis, also stressed the importance of increasing rates of investment in the agricultural sector to reduce unemployment. 

Then started the third session, headed by Mrs. Manal Tibi (Chairman of the Egyptian Center for Housing Rights), she centered the issue on how can human resources development in the global financial and economic crisis and what is the role of extension to reduce the severity of the rural people? Tibi, which confirmed the importance of the discussion such a topic of concern to more than half of Egypt"s population of farmers who are in a serious attempt to place emphasis on the maintenance of their social and economic rights in the light of the fact they are living contrary to the basis of the source of agricultural production of food for the community as a whole and the raw material for industry. 

Then spoke Dr. Adel Abdul Sami (Researcher at the Center of Agricultural Research), he said that the levels of development are concentrated in the basic options consist of three dimensions: people to live a long life free of illness, and to acquire knowledge, and obtain the resources necessary to achieve the life of dignity. 

Abdul Sami said that the human being is an ultimate goal of development as the core development process itself that is, people development and people to people, and a number of means to develop human resources and improving their quality of education, training and vocational rehabilitation, and development of scientific research system, and control of open unemployment and underemployment, and the eradication of illiteracy, and attention to health care as a key factor for the development of human resources, social welfare, and stressed that the government should introduce a package of these means one can even improve the quality and the quality of life of the peasants, and to avoid the disastrous effects of the financial and economic crisis on them. 

Then spoke Dr. Emad Hosseini Negm (expert of human resource development and training), he reviewed the role of agricultural extension to alleviate the financial crisis on the rural people through increasing the efficiency of the rural themselves to be able to sound management of environmental resources and to benefit from the results of scientific research and technology. 

Negm added that in order to reduce the effects of a crisis on Egypt in general and especially the countryside, steps should be taken by many to improve the investment climate contributing to the increase in financial flows interfaces, the development of trade exchange between Arab countries and African and deregulation, and the use of African and Arab blocs in the context of an economic common market. 

Some interventions focused on meeting the need for the government to adopt a serious development programs can contribute to raising farmers socially and economically, and that the extension of the influential role in the restructuring and the formulation of their lives in the hope of a decent standard of living in the successive crises, which they are exposed repeatedly. 

Then started the fourth session that discussed the role of civil society organizations, farmers associations and chambers of commerce and the Federation of the food industry to alleviate the devastating effects of the financial crisis on the standard of living of the farmers in the face of rising rents and the low level of income. 

This session was led by Dr. Osama Bedier, who began the meeting by emphasizing the importance of organizations should be the role of civil society is active and influential role of the farmers to help them reduce the negative effects of the financial and economic crisis which threatens to exterminate their standard of living and productive agriculture. 

Then spoke Dr. Mohsen Bahgat (Senior Researcher, Department of Research Institute of the Rural Community, the Agricultural Extension and Rural Development Institute), referring to the role of non-governmental organizations which are the most spread of the Egyptian society in rural development, and emphasized the role of cooperatives of all types and forms to reduce the devastating effects of the global financial crisis on the level of farmers livelihoods in low farm incomes, and it co-production or service is a reflection of a systematic and practical interpretation of the regulatory framework for the automatic and the direction of the rural community of individuals and groups for solidarity and cooperation. 

He explained that cooperatives as popular socio-economic status are better equipped than other organizations to bring about economic development of the social dimension. He added that most of the Egyptian countryside suffered from the presence of bureaucratic forms of control must be strictly regulated by the government and called for the formation of grass-roots organizations, voluntary and democratic choice. He also stressed that it is time to remedy the situation of cooperative societies to confront the financial crisis and the current global economic and, in order to avoid negative effects on the standard of living of the rural community. 

Then spoke Mr. Abdullah Al Ma"moun (human rights activist), where he presented a working paper prepared by Mr. Irian Nasseef (President of the Federation of peasants under the foundation), stressing that the rule in Egypt, is what is making the agricultural crisis, which is affected by the global financial and economic crisis, and that the face of these devastating effects of the crisis lies in the democratic struggle to get rid of the factors and the key reasons that led to this crisis. 

He questioned the plan of the Egyptian government in dealing with the agriculture sector over the past three decades, where the Government has pursued a policy of export for import, which means the cultivation of export crops at the expense of food crops and the major industrial, reflecting that the statement by the former Minister of Agriculture Youssef Wali, that "the production of 25 thousand acres of strawberry, would cover the export and imports of wheat, "and the result was not only a serious lack of basic crops, but also the failure in the export of these alternative crops. 

The discussions of this meeting focused on the need to support farmers through the adoption of alternative agricultural policies and integrated development which will provide safe food and a decent life and to ensure their right to the formation of associations, without the guardianship of the State organs, and the funds for agricultural cooperatives, which was seized by the Development Bank so they can play a role in development agriculture, to overcome the global financial and economic crisis. 

The main recommendations of the seminar to reduce the negative effects of the global economic and financial crisis on the Egyptian Agriculture are as follows:

The development of cooperatives in line with domestic and international changes, through: The formation of collaborative links really able to satisfy the needs of small farmers, to be composed of non-governmental organizations by the farmers themselves according to their need, and management based on the decisions of the General Assembly of the cooperative that allows the new cooperatives, popularity, independence and democracy, and ensure their development to allow the work to improve the conditions of small farmers and Gaza agriculture, making the membership as a voluntary civil organizations.

To provide a network of integrated information on different aspects of the agriculture sector and to deliver that information to the associations of agricultural villages, and crops on the production target of cultivation, production and supplies available and prices and the minimum expected price of basic agricultural crops, especially cotton, rice, wheat and corn, even when farmers are guided by their decisions with the production and review land reclamation plan and the distribution of a large part of the small farmers, rather than selling them to investors.

The seminar participants emphasized the need for the government to take several prompt actions, to support the rights of peasants to live in dignity, safety of agricultural land acquisition of and to protect our natural resources from being wasted. 

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