The mechanics of land reform

james armstrong james36armstrong at
Mon Feb 1 18:47:24 GMT 2010

>From ‘The Middle East’ by  Sydney Nettleton Fisher 


(Land Reform in independent Egypt)


In September 1952  the
Cabinet (of Egypt  ) decreed a new
agrarian law,  restricting land-ownership
to 200 acres , and stating that the government over the ensuing  five years would expropriate  excess lands beginning with the largest
estates.  Compensation in the form of
three per cent government bonds  would be
at the rate of ten times the annual rental value  of the land.  
Until lands were seized by the government , owners would be taxed at
five times their normal rates , although owners might sell lands  in five-acre lots,  to farmers owning less than ten acres.  Land taken by the government was to be
sold  in two- to –five acre tracts  to farmers owning less than five acres.  The price was fixed at fifteen percent  above the compensation price  and was to be paid over  a thirty-year period. at three per cent


…..…The population  of
Egypt  in 1956 
numbered about 22,000,000  and was
increasing by 500,000 every year.    
Without a parallel increase in economic output the standard of
living  remained in a most precarious
state. Thus the most pressing problems for Nasser were
economic. …

So anxious on the  question of land distribution were the leaders
that after the departure of King Faruk 
they brought forth precipitously 
the land reform measures. Implementation however, progressed
slowly.  In December 1952 a loan of
£E200,000,000 at 3 per cent for thirty years was authorized  to finance land transfers, but in four years
less than 200,000 acres  were
appropriated by the government  and  put into the hands of the peasants  Landowner opposition  and likelihood of reduced production on
broken estates  deterred a government
already  hard pressed by the realities of
politics and economics.


(Compare settlement in the Sudan

..the setting up of the Gezira irrigation project in Sudan  in 1925, which had been envisaged in 1900 by Kitchener
projected  the irrigation of the
triangular stretch of land to the south of Khartum  between the Blue and White Niles. Much
preliminary work was done in soil testing and general planning. …the Sennar
dam.. completion.. did not come until 1925.irrigating  300,000 acres 
of a possible  2,000,000  acres by gravity flow , with management in
the hands of  Sudan Plantation Syndicate.
.. Land tenancies  were established at
forty acres each , two thirds of which could be planted to vegetables, grains
and fodders which would be the tax-free property of the tenants.. The remaining
one third had to be planted with cotton.of which the tenant , the Syndicate and
the Sudan
government received 40 per cent, 25 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.

The government rented land at about  fifty cents an acre from the original owners
and then assigned forty acre tracts to the applicants   By 1939 the 
tenants on the average were receiving about  $ 250 as their share  from the sale of the cotton crop. …

 The Gezira scheme
was  highly successful….


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