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CAPACITY BUILDING THRU RESEARCH--NARP The National Agricultural Research Project
NARP, which operated from the mid-1980s until the mid- 1990s, represents the largest agricultural research development project ever undertaken by USAID in Egypt, and perhaps the largest of any in the developing world. The $205 million undertaking was directed at improving Egypt‘s adaptation and use of modern technology to strengthen agricultural production.
In 1986, the project‘s goal was to improve the capacity for state-of-the- art agricultural research in Egypt. The accomplishments of the project over its eight year life span include:
• capacity building, human resources development, seed policy, agricultural engineering,
• research system improvement, research management and administration, as well as
• improving the capability of the agricultural research and technology transfer system,
• including ARC, Universities and National Research Center (NRC).
Among NARP’s principal accomplishments was human resource development in agricultural research. More than 6,000 Ph.D., M.Sc. and B.Sc. holders participated in research under NARP. In addition, 90 students obtained their Ph.D. degrees from US universities, 20 obtained their M.Sc. degrees, and 2,150 traveled to US universities for post-doctoral training and exchange visits. This cadre of agricultural scientists is now serving in leadership positions in public and private sector institutions in the agricultural sector.
The NARP project also had an Agricultural Policy Analysis Component (APAC). Its principal objective was to provide technical assistance to strengthen the planning, policy analysis and monitoring capabilities of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation and the Ministry of Public Works and Water Resources. This was the analytical tool used to help develop benchmarks for the policy reform component under APCP. It therefore was one of the predecessors of later programs such as APRP. It also built the foundation for later programs such as Agricultural Data Collection and Analysis (ADCA).
The NARP legacy provided a basis for a number of future USAID programs in agriculture. The best illustrations of NARP’s achievements are that Egypt’s agricultural research capability was enhanced, and that resulted in high yields of most crops, and the narrowing the food gap, despite the continuous increases in population.
Accomplishments of Specific Institutes During NARP
During the 10 years of the NARP program, the institutes of the Agricultural Research Center expanded their research programs through the support of the Egyptian government, resources from European governments and the financial, educational and facility support of USAID. Many of the institutes sent members to the United States for training and scientists from the US participated in joint research programs. This interaction enabled each institute to accomplish the goals needed to improve the productivity of Egypt’s agriculture.
The following summaries of the accomplishments of several institutes was a joint effort by the offices of Dr. Wally, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Gomaa, Director General of the Agricultural Research Center and the Dr. El- Beltagy,Chairman of the Board of the Agricultural Research Center and the NARP program.
The Veterinary Serum and Vaccine Research Institute developed new vaccines against clostridial diseases that gave sheep and cattle a prolonged immunity. Work on the control of epizootic diseases has lead to improved vaccines for poultry and rabbits. Thirdly they have produced improved antiserum against tetanus and brucella. A new system of producing a vaccine from tissue culture cells instead of from susceptible animals improved the control of sheep pox. Rinderpest epidemics have been a continuous threat. The Institute has developed a recombinant vaccine and rapid diagnostic method via new molecular biology techniques from the United States. Training workshops on biotechnology have enabled the production of an effective Rift Valley Fever vaccine.
The Field Crops Research Institute focused on improving varieties on wheat, rice, corn, barley, faba beans, soybeans, lentils and fiber and forage crops. New varieties of rice have increased yield by 32%; corn by 70%; wheat varieties that are more tolerant to extreme heat and drought; barley varieties with improved tolerance to a variety of environments and an overall increase in yield of 22%; legume research focused on faba beans and soybeans. Total production of faba beans increased by 48% due to the use of certified seed and improved varieties. Oil crop research includes sunflowers, sesame, peanuts and Canola. Canola was a new crop in the 1990’s for Egypt so they collected more than 350 lines of canola from all over the world to find varieties suitable to Egypt. The focus on sunflower and sesame was oil quality. Research on Berseem clover, rye grass, alfalfa, sorghum and millet focused on introducing new varieties and genetic lines to Egypt. The most important fiber crop in Egypt is flax. New varieties have been introduced including the very popular kenaf. Interesting too is the expansion of sisal varieties that are being introduced to reclaim desert soils. The Field Crops Research Institute is also responsible for weed control research. Better knowledge of the weed varieties and appropriate herbicides have resulted in crop production increases by as much as 30%.
The Cotton Research Institute(CRI) is perhaps the oldest research institution in Egypt and is one of the pioneering cotton institutions in the world. All varieties grown in Egypt belong to the upper two international quality classes, extra long staple and long staple. The average yield has doubled during the last 40 years. Cultural practices have been developed for each variety and region; methods of fiber and yarn quality evaluation have been refined. The CRI made a special effort to improve their technology transfer capability.
The Plant Pathology Research Institute (PPRI) has identified genes conditioning resistance for leaf and stem rust as well as genes that confer resistance to rusts. As a result, several high yielding varieties have been introduced, and selection of genetic sources to smut have also been carried out. One of the most serious diseases of corn in Egypt is late wilt caused by Cephalosporium maydis. Resistant cultivars have been introduced resulting in an increase in production to 3 tons per feddan. Tomato is one of the most important vegetables in Egypt, diseases of Verticillium and Fusarium have plagued the industry. Three new cultivars resistant to these diseases were selected. Phytopthera has been a serious threat to tomato and potato production often devastating the crop from 50% to 100%. New systemic fungicides have reduced the lose to about 5%. Post harvest management has focused on reducing the used of fungicides on edible crops to reduce public health hazards. The use of modified atmospheric storage has helped control molds and rots that affect post harvest storage of fruits and vegetables and hence the ability to ship products to markets outside of Egypt.
Virus diseases affect numerous crops and cause huge or even total loses. By using advanced molecular techniques such as the Elisa immuno assay and the Octerlony technique, detection of several very serious diseases including Barley Yellow Dwarf , Faba Bean Necrotic Yellow Virus and Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus have been made possible cooperation between the PPRI and the CRI has lead to the development of cotton varieties with resistance to cotton wilt with the result that there were no serious outbreaks of wilt during this 10 year period.
Recognizing the importance of mechanizing Egyptian agriculture, the MOA established the Agricultural Engineering Research Institute in 1983. The institute developed equipment using laser techniques to improve land leveling for more efficient use of irrigation water. They also developed equipment for efficient seed planting and cereal crop harvesting and threshing.
The Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute (AGERI) was established in 1989 as a commitment to develop expertise in agricultural biotechnology. Its primary objectives were:
• to reduce the dependency on pesticides through the production of transgenic cotton; • produce transgenic potato plants resistant to potato virus and potato leaf roll virus;
• enhance nutritional quality of faba beans by adding the methionine gene;
• cloning the genes in tomato related to stress-tolerance and disease resistance;
• develop an efficient regeneration and transformation system in maize to develop resistance to corn borer insects;
• map the genome of rapeseed to develop varieties suitable to Egyptian conditions;
• develop efficient diagnostic tools for the identification of major virus diseases of crops in Egypt.
Soil and Water Research Institute (SWRI)
During the NARP years, SWRI accomplished a series of important successes in numerous departments:
Remote sensing: Soil mapping and classification were completed for 1.2 million feddans in the Eastern Delta and 0.7 million fed dans in western Nubaria. An evaluation was carried out for salt, sea and sand affected Delta soil. Changes in the course of the River Nile, location of islands and the status of the Damietta branch were monitored. Land-use mapping was completed for 7.5 million feddans in Egypt.
Soil survey and studies: From 1983 to 1986, a major project on land resources resulted in revising earlier studies on soil on both banks of the Nile Valley in Upper Egypt, the Eastern Delta and the Suez to update soil maps.
Plant nutrition and soil fertility: SWRI surveyed the fertility of 4 million feddans and recommended supplementing rice nurseries with zinc sulfate. This resulted in a 20-25 % increase in rice yield.
The Agricultural Microbiology department inoculated 90% of the soybean,40% of the peanut, 30% of the lentil and 25% of the bean acreage with Rhizobia specific for each legume. 136 Because of the problems of soil and ground water pollution with nitrates and heavy metals, the institute established a network of more than 4000 observation wells. Limited water supplies of water have lead to the reuse of drainage water and the suitability of ground water was evaluated. Water consumption of field and horticultural crops was determined. The number of irrigation cycles for major field crops and the feasibility of reducing water use were evaluated.
Animal Reproduction Research Institute research has improved the reproductivity in cattle, buffalo and sheep. Gonadatrophins were extracted from buffalo pituitaries for diagnosis and control of ovulation in livestock. A mass survey of reproductive diseases was conducted throughout Egypt. As a result brucella infection has dropped from 3% to 0.25% and camplyobacteriosis from 5.3% to 0.3%. Trichmonas fetus has been eradicated. Brucellosis was recognized as being the most devastating problem. The strict test and slaughter program being followed has caused a drop in the disease to about 2% in Cattle and 0.9% in buffalo. In addition the test used has been improved through the use of the ELISA system of testing. Diagnosis and control of newborn calf diseases revealed that 10 to 15% of newborn calves die during the first two weeks of age due to diarrhea, respiratory infections and mismanagement. Treatment with specific and non-specific immune stimulants and the isolation and identification of bacterial and viral agents causing enteritis and pneumonia using ELISA have been effective in reducing loss. Fundamental research on the freezability of buffalo semen with the result that the conception rate increased by 60%. Similarly in sheep the use of improved artificial insemination has improved wool and mutton production and the conception has improved from 56 % to 77%.
Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI) was designated as the national institution responsible for the preservation of animal resources in Egypt. AHRI worked to 137 fulfill its role through its diagnostic research efforts and by providing services to the community. AHRI is responsible for recommending treatment and preventive measures to inhibit the spread of diseases, Not only are its efforts vital for the preservation of animal resources, but also for the protection of human health. To meet these goals, AHRI is actively involved in overseeing various aspects of animal health in Egypt.
With an overwhelming array of viral and bacterial strains of enzootic and exotic animal diseases, and a supply of animal stock that is often limiting, AHRI is constantly concerned with updating its diagnostic techniques and improving its recommended control methods. Although the ELISA technique was introduced into the institute nearly a decade ago, it still carries promising potential for more widespread applications including, but not limited to, the identification of pathogenic bacteria. For enhancing diagnosis, the prospects hold plans for more efficient utilization of such equipment as the fluorescent and electron microscopes and cell culture techniques.
Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research (CLAR) In its short history, CLAR has performed extensive research in a wide variety of subjects. One area of major concern for aquaculture in Egypt is the supply of water. In an effort to conserve water from the River Nile, CLAR studied the use of ground water in fish culture systems. With ground water being used more extensively, water quality becomes a critical issue. The development of fish culture systems requires a full accounting of water quality, especially of heavy metals, which are produced by rain water percolating through the Earth's crust. In one study, high concentrations of iron were detected in the water drawn from a depth of 100 meters . High levels of iron destroy the liver cells and gills and decrease the growth rate of common carp and Clarias lazera. Treating the underground water using KMnO 4 lowered the iron content to a permissible level and restored water quality.
Also in the area of water use, different management systems were compared, such as multiple harvesting against traditional methods. The effect of fresh water and drainage water on pond productivity was investigated in a comparative study.
Several studies on reproductive physiology shortened the interval between pituitary extract doses and showed that pituitary gland extraction is superior to using injections of gonadotrophin and steroid hormones. The effect of stocking rates on growth performance, production and carcass traits of mullet in polyculture systems has been evaluated; however, mullet culture is still based entirely on natural spawning. This results in insufficient numbers of fish for stocking the ponds. Efforts are under way to spawn mullet artificially and thus improve stocking rates.
Other polyculture systems under study include fish-rice and fish-duck systems. The best techniques for duck production are being evaluated. Researchers already know that in a fish-duck system, efficient use is made of total biological production in a pond, and total protein production can be doubled.
Tilapia is considered one of the most desirable fish for aquaculture because of the good price its high quality meat commands. However, because Egypt has a semiarid climate and tilapia is a tropical fish, special measures must be taken to ensure success. Since most tilapia do not eat or grow at temperatures below 15oC and will not spawn at temperatures below 20°C, they must be over wintered indoors.
CLAR has devised a low cost over wintering system suitable for Egyptian conditions. In addition, enhancing the growth of Nile tilapia through the use of the dietary steroid hormone “17-methytestosteronell” has been studied.
With respect to nutrition, a number of topics have been investigated. These include the effect of natural food and 139 artificial feeding on growth performance of mullet, winter feeding regimes of Nile tilapia, physical and nutritional modifications for improving the commonly used cattle feed in fish farms, and the effect of dietary levels of protein on the growth and reproduction of Nile tilapia.
In the area of genetics of salinity resistance, different species of Tilapia and mullet collected from varied locations were used to investigate differences in gene expression. The use of electrophoresis techniques to analyze the data indicated that salinity locations influenced gene expression among species.
The rapidly growing demand for fish cannot be met by a reliance on traditional fisheries and existing fish farms. Therefore, CLAR is actively engaged in extension programs designed to increase the acceptance of aquaculture, thus providing employment opportunities and increasing the supply offish.
Since its inception in 1987, the Central Laboratory for Agricultural Expert Systems (CLAES) has established itself at the forefront of agricultural expert systems applications in the developing world. CLAES occupies a unique position for conducting original research on the use of expert systems in agriculture. The laboratory achieved early success in adapting pre-built expert system shells to local conditions. In addition, original expert system programs were created at CLAES for the cultivation of cucumbers under plastic tunnels. These locally designed programs are a great source of pride for the scientists and staff of CLAES.
Studies have shown that expert systems help improve the performance of extension agents, the vital link between research activities' and the field. The expert systems training courses provided by CLAES increase the knowledge base of extension agents and speed the introduction of new technologies and agronomic practices. Expert systems already in place are helping farmers prepare land for cultivation, establish water and fertilizer regimens and identify and treat 45 cucumber and 50 citrus disorders.
Official Report and Evaluation of NARP
In early 1994, USAID Egypt requested that Tropical Research and Development, Inc., of Gainesville, Florida, organized an assessment team of U.S. specialists to evaluate the performance and impact of the Egyptian National Agricultural Research Project (NARP) and recommend the nature of future USAID support. The following paragraphs are a summary of the evaluation team’s report. The full report is available through USAID Egypt (Cairo), the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reform, Cairo, Egypt, and Tropical Research and Development, Gainesville, Florida, USA. (York, E.T.--105, 119)
A Dynamic Agricultural Transformation through Research and Policy Reform
"Egypt is in the midst of a dynamic agricultural transformation, highlighted by unprecedented yield gains and production of its major crops. For a country that has limited arable lands and water supplies and that already enjoys high crop yields, this is a tremendous accomplishment. This progress has resulted, primarily, from effective research programs and significant policy reform during the past 10- to 15-year period.
The case for research in Egypt is easy to make. Limited land, limited water, rapidly growing population, food needs outstripping production—these require continuing intensification of production on a limited natural resource base. Such intensification requires increasingly higher yields, greater input efficiencies, reduced negative 141 environmental effects, a greater knowledge base, and superior management. But this picture, while daunting, is not all bleak, for the Egyptian farmer is one of the best in the world. Egyptian farmers know much about the land and the soil and water to be managed; they also possess an abundance of knowledge and experience concerning the art and craft of farming. While the Egyptian farmer is exceptional in skills and acumen, to continue to be successful, each farmer also needs a continuous flow of new technologies. Only a productive, problem-solving research system can fulfill that need. We are convinced that Egypt is building an effective research system to help solve its agricultural and natural resource management problems, and that such a research system is essential to Egypt’s future. The National Agricultural Research Project and its predecessor projects have played a key role in the changes and improvements that have taken place, and the work that the project has begun or stimulated will become even more valuable in the future. What is important now is to build on the base that has been established in order to ensure that Egyptian agricultural science can be vibrant and innovative in solving the great problems faced.
Yield growth in major Egyptian crops can only be described as phenomenal over the past decade. Productivity gains for many crops have been exceptionally great since the early 1980s. Moreover, since 1981 Egypt’s agricultural performance far exceeds the average for the rest of the world in rate of gain in the indices of total agricultural production, agricultural production per capita, total food production, and food production per capita. It should be noted, as well, that with 31 of 32 major crops Egypt exceeded world average yields. With two crops, Egyptian yields were the highest in the world. For several other crops, Egypt ranked second or third in the world in average yield. 142 In the performance of animal-based agriculture, Egypt has not done as well as with crops-except, perhaps, with poultry. For example, Egypt’s production of milk per cow equals only one-third of the world average.
Advances in Egyptian Agriculture
"There have been very significant advances made in Egyptian agriculture since 1985 during the period of the NARP’s existence. It cannot be said, however, that the National Agricultural Research Project, by any means, was totally responsible for such improvements. We believe these improvements can be attributed to three major factors (not in any priority order):
1. The major policy reforms implemented during the past 12 years under the dedicated and enlightened leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Youssef Wally (98). Many of these reforms have removed significant disincentives that were holding back agricultural development, providing a policy atmosphere that is much more supportive of such development.
2. The improvement in agricultural research programs made possible, in part, by the USAID-sponsored projects in the late 1970s to mid-1980s. These projects helped to provide the technology and demonstrated the capacity to increase agricultural output significantly. We would note that this significant progress would likely not have been realized in the absence of either the policy reforms or the improved research programs. Each was, in some respects, dependent on the other for its full impact to be realized.
3. Contributions by NARP, building on the foundation established by the earlier USAID-supported research projects, including a major policy project. The NARP has not only built on that foundation but also has supported other research areas not covered by the earlier projects. The results of these efforts will likely be felt primarily in later years.
NARP has also supported extension and technology transfer activities that are vital to help the farmers apply the technologies generated through research. These programs are beginning to contribute to more rapid adoption of new technologies and the further strengthening of the agricultural sector.
Improvements in the seed industry in recent years-also a major objective of NARP-are beginning to contribute to the improvement of the agricultural sector.
The New Initiatives component of the NARP has provided an excellent vehicle to address emerging problems or opportunities that could not be anticipated when the project was originally designed. The benefits of most of these efforts will be realized after the National Agricultural Research Project has been completed.
With 21 major crops there was a modest increase in the crop production index from 1980 to 1983 (l percent annual increase)--but a substantially higher rate of 36 percent from 1983 to 1990, reflecting a 4.5 percent annual growth rate. These data indicate that improvements in crop production have not been limited to cereals only but significant improvement have been made in a broad spectrum of other crops as well. Such advances with the 21 crops are even more dramatic when changes in the current or nominal value of these crops during this period are examined. These data indicate a growth rate in nominal values of these crops of some 19 percent annually since 1980-with growth much more rapid since 1984.
Such improvement in value reflects not only greater production but also significant improvements in prices of the commodities resulting from the major policy changes of the 1980s and early 1990s.
These rapid gains in current value since 1980 reflect inflationary price increases as well. However, there were also significant improvements in the real value of this production. In fact, in the period from 1980 to 1990 the real crop production value increased 89 percent with an annual growth rate of 6.6 percent. Such improvement in the real value of such improvements in production, we believe, has been reflected in significant advances in income to the farmer. Perhaps the significance of these improvements is best reflected in the fact that wheat production increased more in Egypt since 1987 than in all of Egypt’s history prior to that date.
But the greatest impact of the NARP, we believe, is yet to come. The National Agricultural Library is yet to be equipped and stocked. Laboratory equipment, vehicles, and many other commodities are ordered and are yet to arrive. Buildings and laboratories are still being renovated, and improvements continue to be made in upgrading the land and other infrastructure at the research centers.
Important improvements are being made through the technology transfer program in upgrading facilities for extension workers. At some nine locations, management information systems for use by extension are being installed through the technology transfer component.
Four regional research and extension councils have just been formed for the major regions of Egypt. When fully activated they should serve a very useful function in helping to coordinate more effectively the total research effort of the country and in focusing attention on continuing needs for research and extension as new problems emerge.
The extensive training program, which is still in progress, should continue to pay dividends for many years to come. Significant improvements have been made in the seed industry, which should contribute to further improvements in the agricultural sector.
Measuring capacity for effective research is very difficult and, at least, somewhat subjective. However, we have identified several indicators that we believe are important in assessing the development and effectiveness of a national agricultural research system. There is strong and unmistakable evidence that NARP is greatly enhancing Egypt’s capacity to do excellent agricultural research. All of the capacity-building indicators discussed in our report point strongly to an enhancement which should contribute to Egyptian agriculture well into the twenty-first century."
Closing the Food Security Gap "
In the report of the U.S. Presidential Mission on Agricultural Development in 1982, major attention was devoted to the "food gap" in Egypt. The gap had been increasing since 1960 when Egypt was essentially selfsufficient in food. Food production increased at a steady but slow’ pace from 1960 to 1980. However, utilization of the 10 primary food products-wheat (and flour), maize, groundnuts, lentils, sugar, cooking oil, red meat, white meat, dairy products, and fish-was increasing at a much faster rate than production, especially from 1974 to 1980. If nothing had been done to modify these two trend lines, the food gap would have grown from approximately one million tons in 1960 to nine million tons in 1980 and 26 million tons in 2000 (figure 1 [in the full report, figure 5.5]).
From 1980 to 1992, however, there was a sharp increase in production, primarily since 1985, with a distinct slowing down in the rate of increase in food utilization. These changes in the slopes of the two curves since 1980, when projected to the year 2000, show a potential food gap in 2000 of some 4.5 million tons. This gap is about 17 percent 146 of the projected gap that would have occurred in 2000 based on extrapolations of the trends in 1980 (fig 2)
Most of this narrowing of the gap has resulted from the sharp upturn in production since 1985. It is obvious, however, that the rate of utilization is beginning to slow down as well.
These changes were also reflected in wheat imports, which reached a maximum level of around 7.4 million tons in 1987 and dropped to around 5.3 million tons by 1993.
Data indicate that little progress has been made since 1980 in improving the self-sufficiency level in vegetable oil, fish, and red meat. This would suggest that there is significant need to produce more of these products for domestic consumption.
There is considerable evidence that technology is available to facilitate significantly higher crop yields than are currently realized. Despite this, perhaps Egypt should never be expected to fully close the food gap or to become totally self-sufficient. It would be desirable, however, for Egypt to become self-reliant or economically self-sufficient in food production. This would entail exporting sufficient products from agriculture to cover the costs of importing the agricultural commodities that were not produced domestically.
There would appear to be excellent opportunities for such exports, especially of higher valued horticultural products. Several factors make this feasible: the nearness to large markets in Europe and the Gulf States; the ability to supply these markets during winter months when needs in Europe, especially, are greatest; unusually favorable weather conditions, including an almost totally frost-free climate; the ability to control water supplies; the absence of major, damaging storms, etc. In fact, Egypt has been likened to a large greenhouse in which environmental conditions, can, in large measure, be controlled.
Egypt has thus far developed only a modest export market for horticultural crops, and these markets are not stable. They fluctuate greatly from one year to the next. If Egyptian farmers are producing enough to supply the high levels of demand in some years, they are undoubtedly producing too much in other years when exports are significantly lower. We saw evidence of this in Ismailia in talking with several growers who said they had great difficulty some years in selling their strawberries and other crops for export.
Obviously, to be truly competitive in export markets, any country must consistently have available a high-quality product. This requires the development of a good system of grades and standards, handling procedures which do not damage the product needlessly, refrigeration facilities for storage and transportation, etc. To date, Egypt has done little in these areas. There is urgent need to take advantage of what would appear to be excellent opportunities in this area.
With the move towards privatization of agricultural operations, there is also a great need to develop effective storage and marketing procedures for commodities to meet domestic market needs. Officials point out that at harvest time, farmers flood the market with their product because they have no storage facilities and they need income as soon as possible. With farmers all over the country doing this at about the same time, prices drop precipitously. However, prices quickly come back up once the glut is gone.
We strongly recommend that steps be taken to improve and further develop both domestic and export markets for agricultural commodities to take better advantage of excellent production capacities."
Criticism of NARP and Response Thereto
NARP has received rather severe criticism from some sources, including a critical audit by the Regional Inspector General Cairo. This audit resulted in a prominent U.S. senator in 1989 criticizing the project and expressing serious concern about the effort. This episode, and perhaps other incidents, caused USAID Washington and USAID 150 Egypt to focus much attention on NARP, leading to serious questioning of whether the project should even be continued. There was, in fact, a major reduction in AID funding and a total cancellation of important parts of NARP and a reduction of its budget
We were told by a senior USAID official that "many USAID and Government of Egypt actions, reactions, and responses that hindered the project can be traced back to the early negative history." There were also changes in leadership on both sides of the project (three USAID Mission directors, for example) as well as "changes in direction as natural responses to different leadership management styles and visions."
The assessment team feels that the problems and delays were apparently contributed to by both sides, and the burden of responsibility for these problems and delays does not reside with one party alone; both must share some of the burden. Frankly our team has had difficulty understanding why USAID’s commitments were drastically cut in the first place, given NARP’s obvious successes.
While there have continued to be implementation delays and other less serious administrative difficulties, which are undoubtedly irritating and frustrating to both parties, we believe minor difficulties should not be the source of undue concern and must be weighed against the overall outstanding accomplishments of the project."
Research to improve efficiency and productivity in agriculture is never done!
"We are fully in accord with the Government of Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture’s major strategic goals for the agricultural sector, namely, to optimize crop returns per unit of land and water, to enhance sustainability of resource patterns and protection of the environment, to bridge the food gap and achieve self-reliance in agriculture, and to expand foreign exchange earnings from agricultural exports.
During the assessment team’s visit to Egypt, we were asked a very pertinent question by a USAID official: "If Egypt is making all these advances in agricultural production, why is there need to continue support for further researchrelated activities in agriculture. Isn’t this task now done so that we can move on to address other needs?" The simple answer to that question is that research to improve efficiency and productivity in agriculture is never donenever finished. As long as there are more human mouths to feed, there is continuing need for such research.
In fact, a significant amount of such research would be needed merely to accommodate the food needs of a stable human population. But neither Egyptian nor global population is stable. In fact, over 90 million additional people are added to the world’s population annually, and Egypt’s rate of population growth of some 2.3-2.5 percent is above the world average of 1.6 to 1.8 percent.
Such constantly growing need resulting from population growth demands increasing levels of research-especially in situations like those found in Egypt where yield levels are already high. When a country reaches a very high level on the crop yield curve, as Egypt has, each additional increment of production may become more difficult to achieve.
But Egypt, because of its very limited arable land and water resources, is probably more dependent on research to expand food production that any other country in the world. Moreover, the primary beneficiary of such research is the consumer, who is served by having not only an adequate supply of food, but also higher quality and less expensive food as well. Therefore, the need for a high-quality, productive agricultural research program is vital to a sound economy and a stable political future. While much has been achieved through past support of agricultural research, much more effort is needed. USAID projects have contributed immensely to improving the productivity of Egyptian agriculture for some fifteen years through their support of research, policy reform and other programs. NARP, we believe, has been a vital part of that effort for the past eight to nine years. However, because of the significant delays in the implementation of the project, along with major reductions in the amount of USAID financial commitments, there is still much to be done
."Future Efforts in Research Should Include:
• Expand research collaboration both internationally and domestically;
• Research on New Lands;
• Research activities for maintaining a sustainable agriculture;
• Breeding to reduce need for pesticides;
• Development of cultivars more tolerant to environmental stresses;
• Research aimed at producing more per unit of land and water; • Public policy and data analysis;
• Market research and development-for both export and domestic markets;
• Further improve research infrastructure;
• Build on the experience of the Technology Transfer Component and continue
• the improvement of extension;
• Restore cotton ginning capabilities for breeding work;
• Greater emphasis on research dealing with food animals;
• Greater effort on improvement of vegetable oil production;
• Continued support in genetic engineering and other areas of modem biotechnology research;
• Further development of the "Expert Systems" Program to be used by both
• extension and the private sector in technology transfer;
• Continued emphasis on human resource development;
• Consolidate and emphasize on-farm water management;
• Research to address long-term strategic goals
The team firmly believes that while great progress has been made over the past fifteen years or so through USAID assistance, there is continuing need to develop strong and sustainable capacity to accommodate further support for agricultural research and related efforts. This is especially true until there can be developed means for assuring adequate financial support from local sources— Government of Egypt and otherwise.
At some point USAID support will likely be greatly reduced or cease. Hopefully that will not occur until a much strengthened research capacity is developed and until there is better assurance that there is adequate support to maintain the capacity of such enhanced programs.
The national research effort in agriculture will likely be primarily dependent on future Government of Egypt funding. We firmly believe that agricultural research and related efforts should receive higher priority in such funding. Given past experience, however, there is little assurance that this will be adequate to maintain a vigorous research program. Therefore, we suggest two possible approaches through which funds could be generated to complement Government of Egypt funding.
We recommend that consideration be given to the development of programs to generate research funds through fanner assessments or contributions. For example, a possible approach could be one in which each ton of fertilizer or feed purchased and/or each ton of product a farmer sells is assessed a very small percentage of the value, with the funds so generated being put into a special fund-to be used only for supporting research-related activities. The amount of the assessment would likely be no greater than one-tenth of one percent per ton-although different rates could be established for different items.
A "Piasters-for-Pounds program or something similar could be effective, with farmers realizing that they are investing very modestly in programs that will pay them great dividends in terms of enhanced incomes resulting from the application of research results.
In addition to direct funding for current programs, we recommend that while the United States is committing large sums of money to Egypt, consideration be given to using some of these funds to establish an endowment, the proceeds from which could be used to provide continuing support for research-related activities.
Funds put into the endowment could either be in the form of U.S. dollars from ESF commitments or from local currency generated through PL 480, PL 416, or other U.S. programs. Funds from these sources could be put into a "special," nongovernmental foundation annually for several years through which an endowment could build up sufficiently to help assure that the progress made through current U.S. assistance could be sustained. The foundation into which such funds would be placed could be governed by a joint Egyptian-U.S. board, if desirable.
The U.S. government provides at least $815 million annually to Government of Egypt in economic support funding as the result of a program that grew out of the Camp David Accord in the late 1970s. It was primarily these funds that were used to support the research programs discussed in this report. The continuing question is "how can these funds be used most effectively?"
A very strong case can be developed for putting significant amounts of these funds into the agricultural sector. Agriculture continues to be one of the three most important segments of the economy. Over half the Egyptian people are engaged in farming or agriculturally related business/industry. Moreover, the agriculture sector has already enacted more reforms and has moved farther toward privatization than any other sector and is therefore better positioned to use U.S. assistance more productively than any other sector. We believe that high priority should be given by the United States to supporting the agricultural sector. We further believe that, at this juncture, support for functions and needs we have addressed herein should receive highest priority in terms of future U.S. support."
The Assessment Team: Donald L. Plucknett. James Ross, Harold Youngberg, and B.T. York. Jr., team leader E.T. York. Jr.(105)