Egypt unveils technique to adapt to water shortages

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CAIRO — Egyptian authorities have disclosed a brand new technique to adapt to restricted water assets amid expectations of a decreased annual share from the Nile River due to the dam constructed by Ethiopia.

Egypt’s Agriculture and Land Reclamation Minister Al-Sayed al-Quseir has mentioned that his nation’s farmers must restrict the cultivation of water-intensive crop species, together with meals grains and money crops.

At an April 27 convention on Egypt’s new structural reforms technique, Quseir additionally mentioned farmers must broaden the cultivation of crop species that want small quantities of irrigation water to develop.

“We will have to put limits on the cultivation of water-intensive crop species,” the minister mentioned.

Egypt’s agricultural sector employs 30% of its labor and contributes 14% to its gross home product. However, agricultural actions eat up 85% of Egypt’s annual water share from the Nile River, its solely supply of water.

This share has been the identical for tons of of years, even because the inhabitants, now at 100 million, retains rising steadily.

The new technique is a critical bid by Egypt to adapt to anticipated water shortages as Ethiopia strikes forward with the development of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ministry of Agriculture officers mentioned.

“Water shortages are a major challenge for us,” Mohamed al-Qersh, official spokesperson of the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture, instructed Al-Monitor. “This is why we have formulated a strategy that aspires to protect every drop of water available.”

Ethiopia made its first filling of the dam reservoir in July final 12 months and plans a second filling through the wet season in July this 12 months.

The two downstream states, Egypt and Sudan, warn towards the consequences the second filling of the dam reservoir could have on them, with Sudan saying this filling will threaten the lives of 20 million Sudanese residents, almost half of the inhabitants of 43 million.

Egypt, specialists mentioned, could be instantly and straight affected by the second filling of the dam reservoir.

“The second filling of the Ethiopian dam will come at the cost of water reserves behind the High Dam in southern Egypt,” Mohamed Nasr Allam, Egypt’s former minister of irrigation, instructed Al-Monitor.

“These reserves will come to an end, negatively affecting the ability of the High Dam to generate electricity.”

Almost a decade of negotiations between the three nations produced no outcomes, specifically a legally binding settlement on the filling and the operation of the dam.

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are additionally locked in a sport of never-ending accusations. Egypt and Sudan say Ethiopia lacks the political will to signal a deal and makes use of the negotiations as a time-wasting card till the dam reaches the purpose of no return.

Ethiopia, for its half, says the 2 downstream nations have precipitated the failure of negotiations on the dam, together with the most recent spherical of African Union-sponsored ones in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in early April.

Addis Ababa additionally says it is not going to signal a deal that limits its capacity to implement tasks that make the most of its personal water assets.

Nevertheless, the dam situation will exacerbate Egypt’s water shortages, specialists mentioned.

“A reduced share from the Nile will make Egypt’s water crisis even worse and threaten agricultural expansion projects,” Allam mentioned.

With a water provide from the Nile of 55.5 billion cubic meters yearly, Egypt is water-poor already. It wants an extra 30 billion cubic meters of water to fulfill all its wants. The similar wants will enhance within the coming interval because the inhabitants grows steadily and the water provide is predicted to lower due to the GERD.

The newly declared structural reforms technique is a small element in Egypt’s adaptation to present and future water shortages.

The technique will restrict the house cultivated with water-intensive crop species, together with rice, the Ministry of Agriculture mentioned.

Egypt will domesticate round 750,000 acres of land with water-intensive rice this 12 months, down from 1.1 million acres in 2019.  

Qersh mentioned his ministry’s researchers have succeeded in growing new drought-tolerant rice species and others that want small quantities of water to develop.

“We have succeeded in convincing a large number of the rice farmers to scrap water-intensive rice species for the new species,” he mentioned.

Agricultural authorities may even restrict the cultivation of different water-intensive crops, together with bananas.

Egypt’s different adaptation methods embrace the development of dozens of sewage remedy crops and seawater desalination crops.

Cairo mentioned it will make investments $50 billion in water tasks between 2017 and 2037, together with in wastewater and desalination crops.

Apart from increasing protected farming, which permits the cultivation of all varieties of crops with using the smallest quantities of irrigation water, Egypt can also be lining 1000’s of kilometers of water canals to stop water loss — together with via leakage — and distribute irrigation water pretty amongst farmers, together with these whose farmland is positioned on the finish of the canals the place irrigation water doesn’t normally arrive.

The Egyptian authorities has allotted $1.1 billion for the primary part of the venture for lining irrigation canals, a venture that’s remodeling the Egyptian countryside and making certain the presence of irrigation water for numerous farmers.

The Egyptian authorities can also be encouraging farmers to scrap floor irrigation for extra water-saving irrigation methods.

Nevertheless, the variation technique — or what is named structural reforms by agricultural authorities — is costing Egypt dearly by way of cash and meals safety, observers mentioned.

Egypt has specified a sizeable quantity of its price range for the implementation of the aforementioned tasks, together with the development of the wastewater remedy and seawater desalination crops.

A lowering water provide from the Nile will imply this nation can be much less meals safe sooner or later, observers mentioned.

Egypt imports a sizeable quantity of its meals. Food imports are anticipated to extend much more sooner or later, with Cairo working tooth and nail to tailor its frequently lowering water provides to the wants of its rising inhabitants, observers mentioned.

“The drop in the national water supply will necessarily widen the gap between food production and consumption and consequently force our country to import more food,” Sayed Khalifa, head of the Agricultural Professionals Syndicate, a guild of agriculture staff and engineers, instructed Al-Monitor. “This will be very costly for the national economy.”