The agriculture and irrigation committee in the parliament has requested that the Minister of Agriculture, Essam Fayed, and chairman of the Principal Bank for Development and Agricultural Credit (PBDAC) waive interests worth EGP 2.5bn from farmers and cease the prosecution against them.
Committee speaker, Raef Timraz, said that he will demand an interrogation of the Minister of Agriculture and chairman of the PBDAC, Elsayed Elkosayer, regarding their late response to the parliament about the report they had pledged to submit before the committee. The report involves a study on the situation of troubled farmers.
He added that Elkosayer is dealing with the parliament in an “arrogant” manner, and that he is more concerned about the bank’s financial interest on the account of troubled farmers.
He explained that farmers have borrowed money from the bank in order to implement unreal projects, which put them in debt. The result was that the farmers were forced to abandon their lands and sell them for fast profits, which made Egypt lose a great deal of its fertile lands in the Nile Valley and the Delta.
Timraz went on to explain that the committee will look into mechanisms to develop the bank over the upcoming period. The step will involve economic and financial experts, with the aim of increasing contributions of the agricultural sector in the Egyptian economy. The sector had witnessed a significant drop throughout the current period, despite expansions in land reclamation outside the Nile Valley and Delta.
He added that lifting interests for farmers will be one of the main issues the committee will look at, given the pressure farmers are facing due to the increased costs of seeds and fertiliser.
A source in the Ministry of Agriculture said that it aims to develop the social conditions of farmers, noting that the debts of the PBDAC are one of the most important issues the ministry seeks to solve.
The source explained that the payment of debts is decided based on the circumstances of the troubled individual, in order to avoid worsening the situation with the bank.
The number of indebted farmers in the bank reached 200,000 during the first half of 2016, with total interests that exceed EGP 2.5bn, that must be paid mostly by small-scale farmers.