U.S. Assistance to Egyptian Agriculture:

Slow Progress After 5 Years

ID-81-19: Published: Mar 16, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 1981.

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Agriculture has traditionally been a mainstay of the Egyptian economy. In 1975, the Agency for International Development (AID) undertook a high-level development effort aimed at helping the government of Egypt increase agricultural production. The high level of U.S. assistance to Egypt is based on the belief that President Sadat's peace initiatives are crucial and that his effort will be supported and enhanced by a strong and growing economy that is able to meet the Egyptian people's basic needs and expectations for a better life. To assess the progress of the Egyptian agricultural assistance program and identify how program impact could be improved, GAO undertook a review of the assistance that the United States has provided to Egyptian agriculture since 1975.

Although AID has committed more than $357 million to projects aimed at increasing food and agricultural production in Egypt, only $61.8 million of these funds has been spent, and the impact of the projects on Egyptian agriculture has been negligible. Problems in project implementation which have caused slow progress include: contracting delays; insufficient Egyptian support; inadequate AID monitoring; and the lack of staff and expertise of some U.S. contractors, including universities. Even with speedy project implementation, the program's impact will be limited unless policy changes, which provide an environment for agricultural development, are undertaken and unless more attention is given to developing an extension service capable of delivering the technology now being developed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of AID should initiate actions to reassess the optimal degree of U.S. university involvement in U.S. agricultural development programs in Egypt. In making this assessment, consideration should be given to the problems affecting current university performance and the universities' willingness and ability to alleviate those problems in assisting in future projects. GAO further recommends that AID, in establishing future levels of project assistance to the agricultural sector, thoroughly consider whether the Egyptian ministries responsible for project implementation have the ability to effectively absorb the additional assistance programed.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of AID should take action to cause programers of future development projects, particularly agricultural projects in Egypt, to fully use and consider AID's extensive experience and all available information in designing those projects. This effort should be directed to developing ways to minimize the costs of potential implementation problems.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of AID should work with the Egyptian government to establish the necessary authorities and procedures to insure the timely processing of AID-financed commodities through Egyptian customs.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of AID should (1) clearly define AID project officers' monitoring responsibilities, including relations with U.S. contractors and Egyptian officials and periodic visits to project sites; (2) clearly assign responsibility for coordinating with other donors on specific projects; (3) assist Egyptian ministries in understanding and applying established U.S. procedures and regulations which affect project implementation.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  5. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of AID should require that a formal understanding be reached and incorporated into future Commodity Import Program agreements, thereby outlining Egyptian Government plans to address agricultural and other economic policy concerns and assess the effects of U.S.-financed imports on local producers and on Egyptian development.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  6. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of AID should require that the developmental strategy for future U.S. agricultural assistance to Egypt be revamped to include a concentrated, organized effort to develop a method for effectively transferring technology to the Egyptian farmer.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

 

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