Agricultural and Food Policies in Egypt between 2014 and 2021: What Changed and What Didn't

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Farmers harvest wheat in a traditional way with reaping hooks, Faiyum, Egypt, 16 April 2018. ©Ahmed Al Sayed/Anadolu Agency

Executive Summary

Food and food security have become critical, as recently highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the disruption of food supply chains, especially wheat, vegetable oils, and agricultural fertilizers. This is also compounded by climate change, environmental degradation, and pollution. Together, these issues have exacerbated hunger and food shortages, thereby heralding a new food crisis, perhaps more severe than that witnessed in 2008 and triggered political and economic instability and social unrest in the global South.

In Egypt, since President El-Sisi came to power, agricultural and food policies have undergone significant changes, whether in the number and size of the announced projects, the food subsidy system, or the legal and legislative amendments accompanying these projects and reforms. So, to what extent have agricultural and food policies changed in Egypt?

Applying a multipronged approach, this study aims to provide a deeper understanding of agricultural and food policies by analyzing the reference base of agricultural and food projects and programs and their implementation in Egypt between 2014 and 2021. It also seeks to provide a critical reading of what changed and what did not.

The results of the study showed that the current agricultural and food policies in Egypt are to a certain extent a continuation of policies implemented during the Mubarak era in terms of the centralization of land reclamation, the mode of mass production, the access granted to major Egyptian and foreign investors to land and water resources, the focus on export agriculture, and the marginalization of small-scale farmers and food producers. However, these policies differ from those of the Mubarak era in terms of the emerging role of military-owned companies and their increased involvement in agricultural and food projects, as well as the direct role of the Presidency, the President’s follow-up of the projects and interference in their timeline, and the concentration of national projects in the hands of the President and his close entourage.

The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.