Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb has confessed to corruption at the Ministry of Agriculture, stressing that he had directed ministry officials to combat it.
“Corruption at the Ministry of Agriculture is up to the ears; Egypt lacks an agricultural policy…we plant cotton but cannot sell it; we have vast rice plantations but suffer from water shortage”, he said in a meeting Tuesday with members of the farmer’s syndicate, which was also attended by the ministers of transitional justice, trade and local development.
Attendants had discussed farmers’ demands with the prime minister, Farid Wassel, the syndicate’s head, said in press statements. Among the problems voiced by the syndicate was the farmers’ inability to market their cotton harvest as merchants buy it for 50 percent of its price. He said though the state had declared subsidizing cotton plantations with LE1400 per quintal, the problem still persists.
Wassel also noted that the state subsidies benefit rice merchants rather that average farmers as the farmer sells the crop for LE1500 per ton, while the government buys it from merchants for LE2050.
The prime minister stressed on the necessity to resolve farmers’ problems and eliminate impediments to their activities, according to a statement released later by the syndicate.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm