CAIRO: Presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradie met representatives of farmers unions across the country on Monday to discuss the challenges faced by the agriculture sector.
ElBaradei said that as part of his election program, he is working on preparing a draft strategy for farmers that will be out within the next two months.
In his opening speech, he stressed that “the revolution did not only take place for freedom but also for social justice.”
He added that unless the Egyptian farmer has insurance, education and other benefits there won’t be social justice.
He urged attendees to start working now to prepare the legislation that will fulfill their needs and not wait until the current ruling military council and caretaker government make the transition to a civil state.
“How come our agricultural production is 15 percent of the value of national production, while the percentage of farmers is between 30 to 40 percent of Egypt’s working population?” ElBaradei asked.
“Farmers are suffering from corruption, in addition to other agricultural challenges, and so we must build the system from scratch,” he told reporters after the meeting.
A farmer suggested setting up a special bank to cater only to the needs of farmers.
ElBaradei stressed that this idea is crucial for developing the sector, and circumventing government interference and corruption.
“If you have a program for the farmers, all of us will support you,” one of the farmers told ElBaradei.
Others suggested that ElBaradei would lead a revolution for farmers in which they could all be one bloc to fight for their rights.
Quizzed on previous statements where he opposed the allocation of 50 percent of the People’s Assembly seats to farmers and workers, ElBaradei said that the 50 percent never represented them, explaining that this stance was based on meetings with farmers and workers. The quota, he continued, gave the previous regime the opportunity to rig elections.
“I don’t only seek fair and transparent elections but also a parliament that represents all sectors of society,” he said.