: Nile River Valley, Egypt by Planet Labs VIA Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
CAIRO – 2 June 2017: The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has banned the cultivation of alfalfa, banana, and rice crops in the 1.5 Million Feddan Project, said Sameh Saqr, head of the groundwater sector at the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation in an official statement Saturday.
He further pointed out that it is forbidden to grow any crops with a daily consumption rate of more than 15 cubic meters per day.
The state will implement the 1.5 Million Feddan Project on three stages, completing 500,000 feddans in October 2015, as the first phase, over the cities of Farafra and Toshka in the New Valley governorate and Moghra in the Matrouh governorate, Al-Monitor website reported.
The 1.5 Million Feddan Project, initiated earlier in December 2015 by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, reclaimed the desert lands and invested in them by tapping into groundwater.
"This project will expand Egypt's prospective agricultural land 20 percent, from eight million to 9.5 million feddans," announced the Prime Minster Sherif Ismail in press statement in December 2015.
The project is located along the National Network of Roads that links the Valley with the Delta though these areas: Farafra, Dakhla, southeast of the low Qattara, Almagrah, Siwa, west of Minya, west of Almarashda Gana and Toshka.
Each of these areas has its own characteristics that distinguish it from another based on depth of wells, the amount of water available, the type of the water, the cost of raising the water from the ground and finally the land’s potential for development.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture report, Egypt’s 2016 rice paddy production is estimated at 5.1 million metric tons versus annual consumption of about 3.95 million tons.
In early May 2016, the government allocated a number of acres for cultivating rice amid the water shortage crisis. It has also announced that the country will import a total of 80,000 tons of rice to meet local market demands after the price of a kilo jumped around 100 percent due to the merchants’ monopoly.
In September 2015, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said in a statement that certain areas in Cairo and Giza suffered water shortages due to low Nile water levels.