The European Union- Joint Rural Development Programme will strengthen the agricultural infrastructures and the capacities of existing active rural associations, co-operatives and unions of producers working in sectors of interest, in terms of the sustainable management of local resources, and will explore new and innovative solutions for generating income by offering tailored support. As such, it will support the socio-economic development of the rural beneficiaries in the target areas, which are among the most vulnerable population of Egypt.
Technical assistance throughout the life of the Programme will target a critical mass of farmers, artisans, and vulnerable population to get them actively involved in securing their immediate livelihood needs, and in sustaining their long-term social, economic and human development.
The implementation strategy is focused on community-based development and local ownership. The Programme has been conceived as a response to problems at local level and the activities have been designed to meet the needs of local communities.
Why We Focus On Rural Areas In Egypt?
Agriculture is the main activity in rural areas of Egypt. It accounts for 13.4 % of total GDP and for 18.3 % of exports. It also employs more than 25 % of the population and is the main source of income for about 55 % (CAPMAS, 2012).
Over recent decades, agriculture and rural development schemes in Egypt have largely been technology-based and supply-driven, using mainly a centralised decision-making approach. This has limited local ownership and governance, which in turn has failed to support capacity development or the empowerment of local authorities. Marketing concerns were not integrated, and producers were not encouraged to co-operate or to organise themselves to work together. While the focus has now shifted from making resources available to making effective use of the available resources, the rural development debate has moved from an input/technological focus to a focus on people.
The Programme will address the overarching issues affecting the development of rural areas in three Governorates of Egypt; namely Matrouh, Minya and Fayoum Governorates. The main challenges that need to be addressed are:
Limited Landholders' Income
Alternative employment opportunities are lacking due to the limited development of SMEs in rural areas and there is a need to identify sources of income, with diversification into non- agricultural activities.
Better Management of Landholdings
85% of landholders cultivate less than 1 Ha, often not enough to earn a sufficient income with limited utilization of modern technologies (in farming, irrigation, agro-industry and marketing services).
Water Efficiency for Irrigation
Water efficiency for irrigation is a challenge due to the poor quality of water (organic and chemical pollution, especially in rural areas.) Water-use efficiency of field irrigation systems is only 50%).
By strengthening and diversifying the production capacities of the rural population, their economic situation will be improved. Action targeted at community-based organizations will also contribute to the social empowerment of their members.
Preliminary Steps And Agreements
In 2009, the Government of Egypt, with the support of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), devised a new strategy called “Sustainable Agricultural Development Strategy towards 2030‟, which aims to modernise agriculture in Egypt in order to achieve food security and improve the living standards of the rural inhabitants by making efficient use of the available resources. The main objectives of this strategy include the sustainable use of natural agricultural resources, increasing the productivity of land and water units, raising the degree of food security, increasing the competitiveness of agricultural products, improving the living standards of the rural inhabitants and reducing poverty rates in rural areas.
The new Government of Egypt has stressed the importance of expediting the steps that can boost economic and productive activities with the aim of easing the economic suffering of the most vulnerable citizens. Among its top priorities are i) making more land available for agriculture and ii) ensuring adequate food supplies at affordable price, which constitute the main objectives of this Programme.
On 23 September 2014, a financing agreement (n. ENPI/2013/024-474) for the implementation of the European Union-Joint Rural Development Programme (EU-JRDP) has been signed between the European Commission and the Arab Republic of Egypt, represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR).
MALR is considered the lead beneficiary of the Agreement and is in charge of coordinating the implementation of the Programme’s activities with both the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation and the Ministry of Local Development (beneficiaries) and the Ministry of International Cooperation (National Coordinator).
The Role Of The EU And Italian Development Cooperation
The Programme is a rural development intervention under the European Neighborhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD), a policy initiative of the European Union translating its commitment to inclusive growth and stability in its neighborhood. This initiative recognizes the potential importance of agriculture in terms of food security, sustainable production and rural employment. Through ENPARD, the EU experience and know-how have been shared with its neighbors from the southern Mediterranean, in the framework of a solid partnership for rural development and sustainable valorization of agricultural potential. Egypt is an active partner in these exchange.
The EU-JRDP will be implemented by the Italian Cooperation (Direzione Generale Cooperazione allo sviluppo – Ministero Affari Esteri – Italia), through a Delegation Agreement signed on 11 December 2014 between the Delegatee body (Italian Cooperation – Embassy of Italy in Egypt) and the European Commission (EC- European Union delegation to Egypt).
The EC, through a Delegation Agreement delegated to the Italian Cooperation the overall technical and financial management of the Programme, which will be implemented under the responsibility of the Italian Cooperation and in accordance with its own rules and regulation in force at the time of the launch of the procedures, except for grants, for which the Commission’s procedures shall apply.
The Italian Cooperation is strongly committed to the agricultural and rural development sectors in Egypt through a number of important initiatives aiming at improving agricultural production and food security, as well as support to local communities both in the poorest rural Egyptian Governorates (total amount of budget used approximately EUR 60 million) and at the Programme areas.