Day 06 - Life as a Fellah – Aghour Alkobra/Kalyoubia Province – January 29, 2012

77-year-old Abdel Fatah Al Wakeel is the father of 6 children. He has spent his whole life on the same land, working and raising livestock. During those years he has seen the reins of the Egyptian government pass from Nasser's era to Sadat and Moubarak.  These days he receives a monthly pension of 140 Egyptian pounds ($25) and is still working.  He grows crops to feed his animals and raises a small income from the surplus.

Needless to say, political issues are light years away from his primary preoccupations; his living conditions as a fellah (small farmer) hardly fluctuate with the ebb and flow of power between the leaders of his country. Abdel is lucky enough to be the owner of his own modest fields, unlike many of his compatriots who have to rent land or who have been obliged to look for paid work, as a result of the 1997 reappraisal of Nasser’s agrarian reforms.

Indeed, over the last 15 years the ‘liberalization’ of agriculture, desired by the elite of the old political regime, has plunged 6 million landless farmers into poverty, and provoked thousands of clashes with the major landowners in rural confrontations or before the courts. The distribution of water for irrigation has led to an increasing number of conflicts, while the price of chemical fertilizers has also continued to rise.

Peasant farmers’ organizations were outlawed by the old regime, but nothing will be able to hold them back from large-scale collective action if this venture into agricultural liberalization is not seriously questioned – and soon. 

Photo & Report by Gaël Favari for The Global Journal

(Photo © Gaël Favari / The Global Journal)


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