The Egyptian government scrapped controls on rents for farmland in October after a gap of five years. Egypt's 9,04,000 tenant farmers have become subject to a 1992 law allowing landowners to charge market-level rents and denying tenants the right to pass rented land on to their children. Effects of the move can be noticed easily. State-imposed production quotas have been abandoned and import levels left to the market. The law is intended to improve agricultural output, diversify production, encourage investment and promote exports.
Supporters of the reforms say they will allow more flexible land use. "When the rent is low, the tenant does not have any interest in increasing output," said Saad Nasser, economic advisor to the agriculture minister. Critics argue that they will undermine the country's food security and create an underclass of labourers. Tenant farmers, on the other hand, view the law as an intrusion in their business. They say it would interfere with age-old practices.
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