Former minister: Ousted government undermined agriculture

Former agriculture minister Ahmed al-Leithy has accused Ahmed Nazif's ousted government of undermining Egyptian agriculture.

In an interview with the independent Al-Hayat satellite channel, al-Leithy said the agriculture budget had been slashed and land reclamation abandoned.

Al-Leithy said that Nazif's government, appointed in 2006, asked him to ignore land reclamation and to cut LE790 million from the budget allocated for the purpose. "Why do we need to reclaim more land?" he quoted Nazif as asking.

Al-Leithy expressed amazement that a government which he said helped rig three parliamentary elections could be maintained.

He revealed that Nazif's cabinet had sabotaged a scheme to achieve self-sufficiency in wheat production through importing the crop, thus endangering the agricultural sector.

Al-Leithy added that the government had decreased cotton plantations from 500,000 feddans to 180,000 feddans.

Egypt’s ousted president Hosni Mubarak asked Nazif’s cabinet on 28 January to resign, ordering the aviation minister, Ahmed Shafiq, to form a new government. This was a response to nationwide pro-democracy protests that started on 25 January. The reshuffle did not satisfy protesters, who demanded that Mubarak himself step down.

Mubarak resigned on 11 February after 30 years in power.

Shafiq's caretaker government headed is still in power, but will undergo further changes since it includes several figures affiliated to the former regime who are disliked by the public.

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