Egyptian farmers in Sohag complaining that their banana crops were destroyed due to water shortage - Egypt Today/Mahmoud Maqboul
CAIRO – 23 September 2018: Some farmers voiced their concerns over water shortage in irrigation canals in Delta and Upper Egypt as it can damage their crops, amid water scarcity the country suffers from.
In Upper Egypt’s Sohag, banana crops were destroyed as the main irrigation canals have been filled with water hyacinth for more than 12 years, complained Mansour Salman, an owner of a banana farm.
Main irrigation canals have been filled with grass- Egypt Today/Mahmoud Maqboul
Standing on the irrigation canal, Salman told Egypt Today that the canal has been completely neglected. It should irrigate more than 2,000 acres in Dar el-Salam village, but the water is mostly consumed by water hyacinth, he said.
Banana plants are almost dead as they should be irrigated every 10 days, but water flows every 45 days and the cultivation began to weaken significantly, said Abdullah al-Salmy, another farmer.
Small farmers complained about water shortage in their new agricultural startups. In Wadi al-Noqra village, in Aswan's Nasr al-Nuba city, a group of youth demanded getting the water needed for cultivating their lands, reported Al-Gedaan talk show on Al-Kahera wal Nas TV channel. They get water only every two weeks.
In a statement released on Friday, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation replied that the small farmers illegally plant water intensive crops of sugarcane.
“The village should plant crops, which do not need large amounts of water, as determined by the ministry,” the statement added.
In Kafr El-Sheikh governorate, other farmers in Sidi Salem city voiced their worries over losing clover and sugar beet crops as water does not reach their lands, Masrawy online reported on Thursday.
The complaining farmers remarked that water in the irrigating canal of Sakhawi, which irrigates 14,000 acres, decreased.
“Garbage is being accumulated and dead animals are being dumbed inside the canal… So it is difficult for water to reach the canal,” the newspaper quoted Rami Ibrahim, a 27-year-old farmer.
In a speech at the 2018 World Water Week in Stockholm in August, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atti said that a total of 200,000 Egyptian farmers will lose their source of livelihood if the rate of renewable water decreases by 2 percent. “Egypt is working on providing a strong infrastructure to address these risks,” Abdel Ati added.
Egypt suffers from an annual 21 billion cubic meters gap between water consumption and production. The consumption reached 110 billion cubic meters, while Egypt currently has 60 million cubic meters annually, Abdel Atti said in previous statements.
The country imports a total of 34 billion cubic meters of water annually in food products to achieve food security.
It is expected that the water share per capita would drop to 500 cubic meters annually by 2025 amid the rapid deterioration of water and underground water quality, Abdel Atti said in Tajikistan-held high-level International Conference on International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018-2020 in June.
Egypt’s water share per capita declined by 60 percent since 1970, reaching 663 cubic meters, in accordance with the 2014 report issued by the state-owned Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
Egypt has diplomatically and politically entered into a battle with some Nile basin countries over its share of the Nile water. The disagreement started in 2010, when five Nile basin countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda) signed the Entebbe Agreement, per which the two 1929 and 1959 deals conducted during British colonization can be relinquished.
The two deals had allocated 80 billion cubic meters of Nile water to Egypt (55.5 billion), and Sudan (18.5 billion); they also granted Egypt the right to veto against projects that can be established in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan that may cause harm to its share.
Moreover, Egypt’s concern over its share was escalated after Ethiopia started building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. The tributary feeds 80 percent of the Nile’s water to downstream states.