Land rehabilitation, water plans considered for North Coast

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Fri, 16 Jun 2017 - 07:45 GMT

Egypt's North Coast - Hossametch via Wikimedia Commons

Egypt's North Coast - Hossametch via Wikimedia Commons

CAIRO – 16 June 2017: Several land rehabilitation plans for the North Cost are being considered to cope with climate change, the head of desert research for the Ministry of Agriculture, Naim Meselhy, said Wednesday.

The goal is to pave the way for development projects designed to achieve sustainable agricultural development, especially as the natural resources in the area make it more competitive than the Suez Canal development axis, he said.

Meselhy told Egypt Today that climate instability in the North Coast is an indication of possible desertification in an area that used to be a food basket for both Egypt and the Roman Empire. Therefore, pre-emptive measures are needed to face the current risk, he said.

Pressure on and misuse of natural resources can render them unsustainable, he said. Another factor in this respect is the shortage in resources required to develop the southern parts of the coast which are far from the public services centers.

“If the drilling of the Hamam Canal extension is finalized, the water [it brings] would be used to reclaim and cultivate surrounding lands in an area of about 250,000 feddans,” said Meselhy. “Additional water is available from harvested rain and sea water desalination.”

One feddan is equal to 1.038 acres.

“There are 400,000 cultivable feddans in the North Coast, 80 percent of which are used as natural pastures. While the northern areas can be utilized for horticulture and cultivation of crops like figs, olives and almonds, the southern lands are more suitable for barley cultivation,” he said. “In fact, 80 percent of figs on the market are grown in Marsa Matrouh governorate.”

Meselhy also said the government is “increasing rain water stocks to secure the population’s needs, improve the distribution of thermohaline circulation through dams and reclaim lands in valleys and deltas.”

Wells to hold rain water are being drilled in the North Coast as part of the Nesho Wells Project planned by the government and consisting of sub-projects to be implemented by local and international bodies.

The Center for Sustainable Development in Marsa Matrouh is drilling 2,900 wells. Seventy-three wells are executed by Italy’s Bari Institute and 240 wells are implemented through the Italian-Egyptian project for social and economic development, funded by Italy.

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