Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Maize in the national economy
 Maize in the Egyptian farming...
 Maize seed: Varieties and...
 Fertilization and irrigation
 Weed, insect and disease contr...
 Maize as a dual-purpose crop
 The Egyptian on-farm trial system:...

Group Title: CIMMYT Economics Program working paper ; 03/83
Title: Maize production practices and problems in Egypt
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080096/00001
 Material Information
Title: Maize production practices and problems in Egypt results of three farmer surveys
Series Title: CIMMYT Economics Program working paper
Physical Description: 66 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Fitch, James B
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
Publisher: Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo
Place of Publication: Mexico D.F. Mexico
Publication Date: 1983
Subject: Corn -- Egypt   ( lcsh )
Cropping systems -- Egypt   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Egypt
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 65-66).
Statement of Responsibility: James B. Fitch.
Funding: CIMMYT economics program working paper ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080096
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 14514687

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
        Preface 1
        Preface 2
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
    Maize in the national economy
        Page 6
        Page 7
    Maize in the Egyptian farming system
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Maize seed: Varieties and sources
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
    Fertilization and irrigation
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
    Weed, insect and disease control
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
    Maize as a dual-purpose crop
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    The Egyptian on-farm trial system: Findings of the 1979 maize survey
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
Full Text

Results of Three Farmer Surveys

James B. Fitch

CIMMYT Economics Program
Working Paper 03/83

This report is the result of several years of cooperation in Egypt between the Egyptian Ministry of
Agriculture, CIMMYT, The Ford Foundation and scientists from Zagazig University. Personnel from
the Department of Agricultural Economics of Zagazig University conducted most of the field research.
Representatives of the Maize Research Section of the Ministry of Agriculture made valuable suggestions
and provided support, as did the Ministry's Agricultural Economics Research Institute. The Ford
Foundation and CIMMYT provided support for field logistics. The Economics and Maize programs of
CIMMYT were responsible for much of the conceptualization of the survey research.



I. Introduction................................ 1

The Surveys................................... 2
Organization of the Report................... 4

II. Maize in the National Economy............... 6

III. Maize in the Egyptian Farming System......... 8

IV. Maize Seed: Varieties and Sources........... 13

V. Land Preparation and Planting............... 18

VI. Fertilization and Irrigation............... 27

VII. Weed, Insect and Disease Control............ 42

VIII. Maize as a Dual-Purpose Crop................ 46

IX. The Egyptian On-Farm Trial System:
Findings of the 1979 Maize Survey........... 52

Yield...................................... 54
Variety...................................... 58
Previous Crop................................ 58
Planting Date................................ 59
Seedbed Preparation and Seeding............. 59
Thinning and Weeding........................ 60
Fertilizer Use.............................. 61
Stripping and Topping....................... 62

X. Conclusions ................................. 63

References.................................. 65


This report describes on-farm research on maize in Egypt. In 1976,
concerned that maize yield was not increasing in the country and aware
of CIMMYT's interest in technology generation through on-farm research,
the Egyptian National Maize Program staff invited CIMMYT's Economics
Program to work with national researchers. At that time, it was planned
that the research would have certain characteristics-collaboration
between biological and social scientists (mostly economists), attention
to the needs of representative farmers and concentration on analysis in
specific areas.

The work in Egypt was among CIfMYT's early efforts to develop a
cost-effective approach to on-farm research. The process which emerged
from those efforts featured: 1) the identification of potential research
areas in terms of national priorities, 2) the delineation of tentative
recommendation domains, 3) the organization of exploratory survey work,
4) the implementation of more intensive surveys where needed, 5) the
pre-screening of information to identify leverage points for biological
research, 6) the initiation of on-farm experimentation under the
conditions of representative farmers and oriented by the survey process,
7) the adjustment of subsequent experimentation in terms of yearly
results and 8) the orientation of relevant experiment station research
in terms of the findings from survey work and on-farm experiments.

Throughout the period covered by the study, CIMMYT's Maize Program
wap represented in Egypt by Dr. Wayne L. Haag, who actively supported
the on-farm research effort and figured in the preparation of this
report. The partnership that evolved included Haag, a selection of
national program researchers, agricultural economists from Zagazig
University, CIPMYT Economics Program staff in Mexico, and James Fitch
who was in Egypt with the Ford Foundation. Fitch worked with the second
rand third surveys and played the leading role in analyzing and writing
up survey and trial results; those studies are the basis of this report.

While the paper gives evidence of much useful work, the
initial expectations of the participants were not realized. As the
conclusions show, the connection between farmer circumstances and
experimental trials was not as strong as it might have been. Moreover,
the thrust of the biological research did not accord well with the
priorities that seemed to emerge from assessment of farmer
circumstances. Perhaps these operational difficulties occurred because
biology and economics were not firmly enough joined within the Egyptian
Maize Program. We can hope that current efforts, under the auspices of
the Egyptian Major Cereals Improvement Program, will have more success
in organizing tightly knit research aimed at representative farmers.

Even though initial expectations were not met, the results reported
are of considerable interest. The paper presents useful data on Egyptian
maize producers and production, it conveys a sense of what on-farm
research is all about and it offers suggestions on how the research
process may be made more effective. Finally, the tone of the paper is
one of advocacy. CIMMYT firmly believes that collaborative, on-farm,
area-specific research, focused on the needs of representative farmers,
is an essential step in the development of effective agricultural

Donald Winkelmann, Director
Economics Program


This report examines the production system for maize in
Egypt. It is based mainly on the findings of three farmer
surveys conducted in 1976, 1977 and 1979. Its objective is
the summarization of what has been learned from those
surveys about the production problems and practices of
Egyptian maize farmers, with the resulting information
intended for the use of maize research scientists and
agricultural policy makers. Also, methods and materials
actually used by farmers in maize production are compared to
the recommendations of the government's National Maize
Program. Problems experienced by farmers in'following
recommended practices and in obtaining improved production
inputs are examined and research needs discussed.

Maize is a crop of major importance to Egypt, occupying
almost one-third of the arable crop area in the summer
months. It is the main staple in the rural human diet and
also provides valuable feed for livestock. National maize
production has not kept pace with consumption, however, and
recent growth in imports has used up ever larger amounts of
the nation's foreign exchange.

The Maize Research Program of the Egyptian Ministry of
Agriculture is of long standing. As early as the middle
1960s, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
(CIMMYT) began to cooperate with maize scientists in the
Agricultural Research Center. Their breeding program was
emphasized, first for the development of open-pollinated
maize varieties and later for hybrid development.
Cooperative efforts also focused on soil and water problems
and on agronomy. Research was concentrated on experiment
stations until, in 1976, a system of on-farm trials was
established to test maize varieties and fertilizer
application under more representative conditions.

Despite the growing emphasis on conducting research
under realistic farming conditions, very little specific
information had been available about the maize farmer in
Egypt or his production practices. Therefore, in 1976, the
year that on-farm trials were begun, a survey program was
initiated to obtain more information about farmer
circumstances and practices in the Maize Belt governorates
of the Delta. In 1977, a survey was made of Middle Egypt
maize growers and, in 1979, a survey of trial and nontrial
farmers was made in an effort to help monitor the on-farm
trial system.

Egyptian average maize yields had held steady at around
1.5 tons per feddan (3.6 tons per hectare) for the past
decade. Given the natural richness of Egyptian soils, the
availability of water for irrigation, the favorable climate
and the high levels of fertilizer being applied by Egyptian
farmers, the obvious question was why their yields were not
at least 30 to 40 percent higher, to be in line with yields
in other countries with similar conditions. As that would
still be less than on-farm trial yields in Egypt, an
important research goal was to find ways to increase farmer

The Surveys

The 1976 Maize Survey included villages in the six
southernmost provinces of the Nile Delta. The Delta accounts
for 60 percent of all of the maize grown in Egypt, and those
six governorates, Sharkia, Menonfia, Beheira, Gharbia,
Qaliobia and Dakahlia, are the heaviest producers. A random
sample of 40 villages was first chosen, with the number of
villages chosen in each governorate in proportion to its
farming area. 160 farmers were in turn chosen; after
stratifying the list of farmer names provided by village

cooperatives, four farmers were chosen at random from each
of the villages.

Questions on the 1976 survey were adapted from
questions on earlier CIMMYT-sponsored surveys in other
countries and from discussions of problems and information
needs expressed by Egyptian maize researchers. The
questionnaire and the survey methods were set up by
economists from Zagazig University. Farmers were contacted
and interviewed during July through September, the peak
months of the maize-growing season. Results of the 1976
survey were reported in Arabic in a paper by A.A. Goueli,
M.Z. Gomaa and A.S. Attia (1977).

The second Maize Survey was conducted in 1977 in the
Middle Egypt governorates of Fayoum, Giza, Bani Suef, Menia,
Assuit and Sohag. Middle Egypt is distinct from the Delta in
terms of maize production. The climate is somewhat warmer,
the season begins from one to two weeks earlier and
irrigation methods and planting practices differ. A higher
proportion of Middle Egypt maize is marketed. In the survey,
31 villages were chosen at random, and 185 farmers were
chosen in the same stratified random fashion as for the
first one. A special survey of 36 Nili maize growers (see
page 10) in Fayoum Governorate was also made in the autumn
season, to determine the production characteristics and
problems of that crop.

The 1977 survey questionnaire was an adaptation and
improvement of that used in 1976. More input and feedback
were also obtained from biological scientists, based on
preliminary findings of the first survey. Results of the
second survey were reported in two papers in English by J.B.
Fitch, A.A. Goueli and M. El Gabely (1979); a report in
Arabic was made by Goueli, Gomaa and Attia (1979).

A third survey was conducted in summer, 1979. It was
somewhat different from the first two as it was designed to
monitor the on-farm trial program for maize and to compare
what was being done on trial farms with the practices of
nearby farmers. Trials were carried out on two farms in each
of 13 governorates, on a total of 26 farms in 26 different
villages. The participating farmer was surveyed in each
case, and information was obtained about his trial plot as
well as about a field of nontrial maize, if he had one. In
addition, three other farmers were selected at random from
each of the villages.

Questions in the 1979 survey were adapted from those
used in the previous surveys, again with feedback from
biological scientists. Special questions were also asked,
related to the on-farm trial process. In all, 96 farmers
were interviewed. With the participation of the Maize
Program in all of the surveys, results were quickly
available to those who were working on improved varieties
and crop management. A summary of sample survey
characteristics is shown in Table 1.

Organization of the Report

In the later sections of this report, survey findings
are discussed in detail, proceeding more or less in the
order of the crop production cycle. Part IV discusses
current maize seed varieties and sources and Part V
methods of land preparation and planting. Part VI considers
findings on fertilization and irrigation practices and part
VII, weed, insect/and disease control. Part VIII discusses
the dual-purpose nature of maize, with particular emphasis
on the farmers' system of planting, stripping and topping to
obtain feed for their livestock. Part IX looks at Egypt's
maize research with emphasis on the on-farm trial system and
the findings of the 1979 survey which monitored that system.

TABLE 1. Characteristics of the Egyptian Farmer Surveys

1976 SUMMER 1977 SUMMER 1977 NILI 1979 TRIAL

Area Included 6 Governorates 6 Governorates Fayoum Total of 13
in the Delta in M. Egypt Governorate Governorates

Number of Villages 40 31 6 24

Number of Farmers

Farm Size:

Under 1 Feddan

1 to 3 Feddans

3 to 5 Feddans

Over 5 Feddans








22.2 22.2

54.0 50.0

18.7 11.1

5.1 16.7














Agricultural products account for 30 percent of gross
domestic product in Egypt. Within agriculture, maize is a
major crop in terms of land area; at current domestic
prices, it also ranks second in value of production (Table

The importance of maize in the economy is also
reflected in ways other than monetary value. Its role in the
rural diet has already been mentioned. Unlike urban
residents, whose main staple is bread made from wheat flour,
rural residents depend on maize, especially bread made from
mixed maize and wheat flours.

Egyptians produce and consume white maize. Livestock
production has been spurred by imports, mainly of yellow
maize, which are sold, at government-subsidized prices, to
farmers and to government feed-mix factories.

In terms of international trade, maize is the country's
second most important import after wheat. Through a series
of area and price controls, plus import decisions, the
government has managed to keep maize and wheat prices well
below their international levels. Prices paid to farmers for
export crops such as cotton and rice have also been held
below their international equivalent values. It is important
to note, however, that maize has never been subject to the
direct area or price controls which have been applied to
other trade crops.

A recent study by Habashy and Fitch (1981) shows that,
while farm level maize prices averaged 65 percent of their
international trade equivalents during 1976-79, wheat prices
were only 51 percent, rice prices 47 percent and cotton
prices 36 percent of their respective international levels.

TABLE 2. Areas and Values of Mai7e and Other Major Crops in Egypt

feddans) (Egyptian pounds) (million pounds)

Maize 1.88 46 47 86.48 88.36

Berseem clover 1.77 209 130 432.93 229.10

Wheat 1.39 37 87 51.43 120.93

Cotton 1.20 49 408 58.80 489.60

Rice 1.04 51 206 53.04 214.24

Source: Habashy and Fitch (1981)

* Total agricultural land area in Egypt, six million feddans

While all of these major crops have been subject to heavy
indirect taxation, maize has been taxed less than the
others. In this sense, maize has been a favored crop,
policywise, in Egypt.

Total maize production in Egypt has continued to
increase fairly steadily, as Figure 1 illustrates. From the
early fifties to the late seventies, production almost
doubled, from 1.4 million tons to 2.9 million tons. This
represented a 3.7 percent average annual rate of growth,
which was well ahead of the 2.2 percent rate of national
population growth during the same period. Nevertheless,
production has not kept pace with total consumption,
particularly in recent years. Maize imports rose from 136
thousand tons per year in the early 1960s to over 500
thousand tons by the late seventies and to one million tons
in 1980. Where the country produced 97 percent of the maize
consumed in the early seventies, the proportion dropped to
75 percent by 1980. These rising import costs have added an
ever-increasing foreign exchange burden to the government


Before discussing the specific maize production
practices and problems revealed by the surveys, it is
necessary to consider some general characteristics of
Egyptian farmers and maize producers.

Since the land reforms of the 1950s and 60s, land
tenure has tended heavily toward operator ownership.
National figures show that over 60 percent of Egyptian farm
land is now owner operated. Farm decision-makers tend to be
older and not highly educated; the rate of illiteracy is
very high.

IVDU- DD- bU- bo- 7U-5s-fb-
1954 59 64 69 72 7578

Average Area in Maize
(/000 feddons)

100 97
- -=






1.50 11.5711.4611.59

I h ~ I i

1950- 55- 60-
1954 59 64

72 75 78

Average Maize Yields




1624 I 1828

1950- 55- 60-
1954 59 64




188 187

65- 70- 73-76- 79
69 72 75 78

1965- 70-73-76-79
1969 72 75 78

Domestic Production
(percent of total


T7 291 593
1965- 70-73-76-79
1969 72 75 78

(/000 tons)

FIGURE 1. Maize Production and Imports

Average Maize Production
(1000 tons)


The principal characteristics of Egyptian agriculture
are the predominant rural population and small average farm
size. Of the country's 45 million inhabitants, about 22
million (53 percent) live in rural areas; of these, some 12
to 13 million are in farm families while another 5 to 6
million are in agricultural worker households. The land base
in Egypt is limited and has remained relatively static for
the past 30 years; additions of newly reclaimed farm lands
have been offset by losses to urbanization. One recent study
has pointed out that the number of farms has continued to
expand in Egypt, which means that, with the almost fixed
land base, farm size has declined. In 1961, the average farm
size was 3.8 feddans, whereas by 1975 it had declined to an
estimated 2.1 feddans (Fitch, Aly and Mostafa, 1980).

Egyptian farmers normally follow a two- or three-year
rotation, with two crops being grown each year. Maize is
usually planted following wheat, clover or broad beans. The
most common two-year rotation is berseem clover followed by
maize in the first year, and clover followed by cotton in
the second. In the three-year rotation, wheat/maize is grown
after either the clover/maize or the clover/cotton year.
Among summer crops, maize competes directly for land with
cotton which is grown throughout Egypt, with rice which is
grown in the northern part of the Delta and with sorghum
which is grown in Upper Egypt. (The Middle Egypt and
Southern Delta zone, where maize does not compete with rice
or sorghum, is known as the Maize Belt.)

The building of the Aswan High Dam led to a major
revolution in the way in which maize was grown. Until the
middle 1960s, when the dam was completed, maize was grown as
a "Nili" crop. That is to say, it was planted in the late
summer, usually July or August, when Nile flood waters were
available for irrigation. Once the dam made irrigation water
available throughout the summer, however, farmers shifted to

earlier planting. As Figure 1 indicates, only 7 percent of
the land area was planted to summer maize in 1962-64,
whereas 25 percent was in Nili maize. By 1972-74, these
figures were almost completely reversed, with only 6 percent
in Nili and 23 percent in summer maize. This is a clear
indication of the extent to which Egyptian farmers can
respond to changing technical opportunities when there is a
benefit from doing so; maize yields were improved
substantially by the shift to earlier summer cropping.

Given the Egyptian rotation system, a typical farmer
could be expected to have less than a feddan--many, in fact,
much less--to devote to maize production. With national
yields averaging about 1,560 kg per feddan, this
understandably leaves many farm families with scarcely
enough to feed their five or six members, particularly when
the necessity of feeding farm animals is taken into account.

The amount of land planted to maize seems to be little
influenced by maize prices; maize area increased steadily
throughout the seventies, despite a fairly consistent drop
in real and relative prices for the crop (Figure 2). Maize
grain prices have scarcely managed to hold their own,
relative to rice and cotton, and yet maize acreage has
increased while acreage for the other two crops has
declined. The fact that maize is such an important
subsistence crop may help to explain this fact.

Maize area has varied substantially in the years since
the 1952 revolution. The 1.88 million feddans planted in
1979 was only seven percent greater than the 1.75 million
planted in 1952-54. However, the area planted dropped
considerably in the sixties, after the dam was built, but
then began to increase again in the seventies. The probable
reason for the drop in area during the sixties was the large
increase in yields which was brought about by the shift to

Moaie Areo ,


Real Price, 4
Ton of Moate s.
(/IW7 pow ds)

Reo/ Price,
Ma/e Skitma
(/967 pAostres
per 150 kg)

6/ 63 66 67 69 71 73 75 77 79

FIGURE 2. Maize Area and Related Prices

summer cropping. It appears that farmers shifted to other
crops when they found they could meet their subsistence
needs with smaller areas of maize. Following the large 43
percent yield increase in the sixties, yields remained
almost constant at around 1.5 tons per feddan throughout the
seventies. As yield increases leveled off, maize area rose
again, climbing to slightly above what it had been in the
fifties. It would appear that, due to the decline in farm
size, making them more subsistence oriented, maize plantings
were increased to keep up with the needs of the growing
rural population.

Another factor which cannot be overlooked in Egyptian
maize agriculture is the value of maize by-products. Parts
of the maize plant are used for animal feed, and stalks can
be used as fuel for cooking. Price series for these items
are difficult to obtain since many of them are home
consumed and so do not have well-organized markets. However,
the Ministry of Agricultrue maintains a series on maize
stalks, which converted to real prices is shown in Figure 2.
It suggests that an increase in maize area may be related to
increased prices of maize by-products.


The farmer surveys make it clear that, until now, there
has been little in the way of seed of genetically improved
maize varieties used by the Egyptian farmer. More than 80
percent reported using local varieties, although most of
those varieties have probably been influenced to some degree
by cross pollination with the hybrids and open-pollinated
varieties which have been introduced or developed locally in
the Maize Program. Even so, just over half of the farmers
interviewed in the Delta reported having experimented with
planting at least one other variety in the past, as did over
40 percent in Middle Egypt.

A number of names were used by the farmers for the
different local varieties, but only nab-el-gamal (camel's
,tooth) and sabaieny were mentioned with any great frequency;
nab-el-gamal is a favorite and is identified by the very
large, flat shape of the grain.

"Hybrid" was a term sometimes used by the farmers to
designate seeds, either hybrid or open-pollinated, purchased
from either the agricultural cooperatives or one of the
other agencies of the Ministry. The only hybrid name
mentioned was American Early, a dent, open-pollinated
variety, and it has been in Egypt for so long that it is
probably more "local" than "improved" by current standards.
It is also probable that many of the varieties identified as
hybrid were in reality seed which had been derived from
hybrids rather than true hybrids (Table 3).

TABLE 3. Varieties Used by Sample Farmers, Year of Survey

Various Local Varieties 70.4 68.7
Nab-el-gammal, Local 14.6 14.8
Sabaeiny, Local 0.7 4.2
"Hybrid" (American Early, AE) 12.5 2.4
"Hybrids" (Other than AE) 1.9 9.8

The main source of new genetic material for the
Egyptian farmer is the government, particularly the
Agricultural Cooperative Society in each village or cluster
of villages. The cooperatives distribute certified
government seed which is produced on contract by farmers or
on state farms, as well as any improved seed imported by
government agencies; only recently have there been any
private seed production and distribution companies.

In general, farmers do not have a very good knowledge
of what seed is available from the cooperatives. In the

Delta, 45 percent of the farmers surveyed did not know
anything about the variety available, while 36 percent
stated that it was "hybrid" or "synthetic" but could not
give it a specific name. The only specific one named was
American Early (10.4 percent), but that variety was probably
not actually available at the time.

In Middle Egypt, 35 percent of those interviewed did
not know whether seed was available that year at the
cooperative, 27 percent were sure that it was available and
19 percent said that it definitely was not available. It
seems obvious that supplies of seed are not available at all
cooperatives, and that supplies for many cooperatives arrive
late. 76 percent of those farmers who reported asking for
seed at their cooperatives said that it was not available.
In the Delta, 60 percent of farmers who had planted
government seed in the past said that it was not available
when they asked for it again.

Farmer's lack of knowledge about the government's seed
distribution program, together with availability problems,
is one reason why so few rely on the government for seed.
Their main source of seed, as shown in Table 4, is what they
have saved from their previous year's crop.

TABLE 4. Source of Seed Used by Sample Farmers, Year of Survey

(percent of farmers)

Saved from Own Crop 96.6 62.5
Procured from Neighbor or Relative 2.2 14.7
Purchased from Market 0.9 18.0
Purchased from Cooperative or
Other Government Agency 0.4 4.7

While farmers attempt to save their better grain for
seed, its quality is not very high. Selection procedures
tend to be faulty and storage facilities inadequate. In

Middle Egypt, only 72 percent of those interviewed said that
they made a special selection of maize for seed, and 86
percent of those so reporting said they selected at home
rather than in the field. Thus, important characteristics of
the maize plant itself are not taken into consideration. Of
those who followed special selection procedures, 81 percent
stored the seed in a separate location or container from
maize destined for consumption. When questioned about their
criteria for selecting seed, most farmers in both Middle
Egypt and the Delta mentioned large ears and kernels; some
said they looked for resistance to disease and weevil
attack. There was no mention of other plant characteristics.

Those Middle Egypt farmers who reported storing their
seed separately indicated a variety of storage locations and
methods. For the most part, there was no special protection
for the seed, except perhaps with those farmers who used mud
silos. The majority stored their maize on the cob with very
few reporting storage in shelled-grain form. While 57
percent in Middle Egypt stored in the ear with husks
removed, 76 percent of the farmers in the Delta reported
storage with husks on; otherwise, their practices were quite

As to improvements farmers see as desirable in maize
varieties, they most often named higher yield. Of those
Middle Egypt farmers who had tried government seed and
decided not to plant it again, almost half claimed that it
was because of low yields. When farmers in the Delta were
asked whether they would forego two ardebs per feddan (280
kg or about 18 percent of average yield) for a variety that
could be harvested in 3.5 months instead of the prevailing
four months, 72 percent said no. Thus, the government four-
month varieties would seem to fulfill the needs of most
farmers. Still, a significant number (28 percent) were
willing to sacrifice some yield for earlier maturity.

Various plant characteristics other than yield were
also important to the farmer. One of the most important was
a plant that could be planted and harvested earlier without
serious reduction in yield. Part V of this report, a
discussion of planting methods and dates, shows that a
number of farmers plant earlier than the recommended date:
undoubtedly, they often do so to be able to work in an extra
crop. Farmers also mentioned the desirability of a plant of
medium height, with thick stalks and with large ears and

Tn considering desirable varietal characteristics, it
is necessary to take into account the end use of the maize
crop. The grain itself is used in human consumption, mainly
in breadmaking. Table 5 shows farmer preferences in bread
flours. Those of Middle Egypt prefer bread made of one-grain
flours, whereas Delta farmers prefer mixtures.

TABLE 5. Type of Bread Flour Preferred by Survey Farmers


Maize Only 5.9 19.0
Wheat Only 13.0 28.5
Maize and Wheat Mix 81.1 35.1
Maize and Sorghum Mix -- 12.2
Maize, Wheat and Sorghum Mix -- 5.3

Not all maize is produced for grain and, even when it
is, it is expected to yield valuable forage by-products. It
is often recommended that farmers who need forage for
animals plant a separate plot of maize. Although maize
scientists believe that the practice is growing in
importance, only 3 percent of the farmers interviewed in
Middle Egypt reported growing a crop specifically for that

purpose. Since most farmers continue to strip and top the
maize plant for forage, it would be worthwhile to breed
plants that would not be too sensitive to the practice. An
alternative would be a sufficiently productive forage
crop--such as maize, sorghum, sorghum-Sudan grass or
elephant grass--so that farmers might rely less on maize

Two new varieties which show promise for Egyptian
farmers are Giza 2 and Pioneer 514. Giza 2 (formerly
Composite 2EV2), which is open pollinated and not a hybrid,
was developed in the National Maize Program; 514 is a hybrid
import of the Pioneer Seed Company. Both are white maize
varieties characterized by tall plants which resist late
wilt, and both mature in four months. The 514 appears to
have better resistance to turcicum leaf blight, an important
potential problem, but both varieties have been successful
in on-station and on-farm trials.

While the Pioneer seed has the advantage of being
produced by a private company with an effective production
and distribution mechanism, it is a hybrid which requires
annual renewal to maintain yield. Pioneer representatives
have been extremely active in disseminating information to
farmers and government technical officers about the variety
and have worked with many farmers in demonstration trials.
While Giza 2 does not have the advantage of vigorous private
promotion, it should be distributed by the National Seed
Company by 1981 at a lower price.


Land preparation and planting methods are areas where
many farmer practices differ from those recommended and
utilized by the government in its trials and experiments.
This would seem to be one of the logical places to look in

seeking to explain the gap between experimental yields and
those of farmers.

The Ministry recommends planting maize between May 15
and June 15, except for Middle Egypt. There the climate is
warmer, and the recommendation is to plant before the first
of June. These recommendations derive mainly from pest
control considerations. For maize planted before the tenth
of May, there is danger of sesamia corn borer attack in the
Delta and Middle Egypt, and after June 15 there is danger
from ostrinia borer in the Delta. Farmers also have
considerations other than pest control in selecting planting
dates; in particular, planting dates for maize are heavily
influenced by the preceding crop in their rotation. In the
Delta, some 15 percent of the farmers surveyed planted
earlier than the recommended date and 20 percent later.
Nearly 60% planted later than recommended in Middle Egypt.

In the Delta survey, most farmers reported that early
planting helped control insects. Some 135 farmers (84
percent) said they planted early to escape aphids and 118
farmers (74 percent) to avoid corn borers. 109 farmers (68
percent) said that planting dates depended on their
rotation; 38 farmers (24 percent) reported that the winter
crop had little influence on planting date.

That there is a relationship in Middle Egypt between
planting date and preceding crop can be clearly seen from
the data in Figure 3. Tn cases where maize is planted after
berseem clover, it is planted later than after broad beans,
winter vegetables or other crops. The time in which clover
stays on the ground depends on the farmer's forage needs,
and the fact that almost half of the maize that is planted
late follows clover shows the importance of forage in
farmer decision-making.

Crop PreceeV* Araize PAonfed before Ane

Crop Preceding Maize Pantfed i JAke or Lofer

FIGURE 3. The Relationship of Preceding Crop to Date of Maize Planting

Source: Middle Egypt Maize Survey, 1977, as Reported by Fitch, Goueli and
El Gabely (1979, Table 2)


The Ministry recommends planting maize on ridges, a
procedure used on experiment stations and in on-farm trials.
In the trials the soil is prepared with a chisel plow and
then with a ridging implement, both tractor drawn. The
tractor has to be powerful enough to work Egypt's heavy clay
soils, even when fairly dry. Maize is seeded in hills
located about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the ridges, and
irrigation applied on the same day to facilitate
germination. After three weeks, the soil is hoed and
fertilizer applied. The soil from the unplanted side of the
opposing ridge is pulled over against the maize plants,
leaving them closer to the centers of the altered ridges;
this helps control weeds by cutting them on the unplanted
side and covering them on the planted side. About three
weeks later there is a second cultivation and fertilizer
application, with still more soil being moved from the
opposing ridge. After this second cultivation, the maize
plants are in the center of the new ridges (Figure 4).

When questioned about the value of ridging, 75 percent
of the Middle Egypt farmers said that they believed it
increased yields, whereas 21 percent felt that they were
decreased. Most of the sample farmers said that following
the ridging system was difficult; many mentioned the high'
cost in money or labor, and a few mentioned the absence of
tractors. However, a review of the costs of land preparation
reported by farmers in the 1979 survey did not reveal any
significant differences according to the methods used.

There are several advantages to this recommended system
of ridging and planting. Initial planting on the side of the
ridge places the young plants close enough to water for
needed moisture but gives protection against over-
saturation. The movement of the soil aids in weed control,
and the ridges provide flexibility in water management,
particularly where fields are not level.

before Fist

After First

After Second

.---..--. Position ofRidges before Cultivation

FIGURE 4. The Recommended System of Planting and Ridging

It would seem safe to say that only about half of
Egypt's maize farmers follow this recommended system.
Alternative methods vary, depending on farmer circumstances.
Many follow the so-called heraty (wet) method, irrigating
several days prior to plowing, planting in the still-moist
soil as it is plowed and then irrigating again seven to ten
days later. The preplanting irrigation causes weed seed to
germinate before the planting, thus leading to better weed
control. In the afeer (dry) system, maize is planted in dry
soil which is irrigated immediately afterward. The heratv
method is most often used by farmers who use animals for
plowing as it makes the soil easier to work; most farmers
who use the afeer method have access to tractors for

Fitch and Afaf (1980) show how land preparation
technology varies according to farm size. Farms of less than
one feddan still rely heavily on animal .power for plowing;
only 46 percent of the land on those farms is tractor
plowed. On the other hand, about 65 percent of the land on
farms larger than one feddan is tractor plowed (Table 6).

TABLE 6. Relationship of Maize Planting Method to Field Size

( p e r c e n t ) SIZE CATEGORY

Less than 1 Feddan 64.6 71.4 88.2 73.8
1 to 3 Feddans 18.2 22.9 11.8 19.9
3 to 5 Feddans 4.0 2.9 0 3.5
More than 5 Feddans 3.0 2.9 0 2.8

Source: Middle Egypt Survey, 1977

Most farmers who use afeer also use the ridging system
recommended by the Ministry. With heraty, the ground is
usually left flat. Some farmers neither pre-irrigate nor

plow; in effect, they use afeer with no tillage. They hoe
the soil to prepare it, and make holes for the seeds with a
stick. For those fields, the soil configuration which was
used for the previous crop is carried over, almost always
resulting in an absence of ridges.

The use of afeer versus heraty varies widely from
region to region, as well as within regions. In general,
more Delta farmers use heraty than do Middle Egypt farmers;
as Table 7 shows, over 45 percent of Delta farmers used
heraty whereas only 11 percent of the Middle Egypt farmers
did. Middle Egypt maize yields are higher than those of the
Delta, a fact which may be related to the higher percentage
of Middle Egypt farmers using afeer.

TABLE 7. Planting Methods Used by Survey Farmers


Afeer (Dry)
With Tillage 35.5 63.1
Without Tillage 19.3 26.9

Heraty (Wet) 45.5 11.0

The recommended seeding practice is to place three to
four seeds in holes made with a stick or hoe, the holes at
30-centimeter intervals along ridges 70 centimeters apart.
This gives a plant density of about 20 thousand plants per
feddan. When asked how they placed seed in the ground, most
of the nontrial farmers in the 1979 survey indicated that
they placed the seed in holes, although some said they
dropped it in a furrow behind an animal-drawn plow. A very
few (4 percent) said they hand broadcast. Of those same
farmers, some said they covered the seed with a small hoe,
some used their feet and some employed an animal- or

hand-drawn compacting board. The compacting board method can
only be used with heraty and without ridging.

The amount of seed recommended is about 1.5 kavlas (18
kg) per feddan. The 1979 survey found that some 40 percent
of the farmers placed four or more seeds in each hole,
necessitating more than the recommended amount of seed. 37
percent used more than 2 kaylas of seed, and four farmers
reported using 4 kaylas. The high rate of seed used did not
appear to result from the fact that farmers had experienced
poor germination; most farmers reported high numbers of
emerging plants, and 36 percent claimed that four or more
seeds emerged from each hole. It seems likely that the
higher seed use is for extra plants to thin and feed to

From an economic point of view, there is probably
little incentive for farmers to conserve on seed. Since most
seed is homegrown or merely selected from regular grain
stocks, the cost is low. Once higher quality--and higher
priced--seed becomes more available, farmers may be forced
to switch to planting methods which use less seed.

Even though initial densities after emergence are high,
ultimate densities in farmers' maize fields are lower than
government recommendation. The 1979 survey teams took counts
of plants in randomly picked field areas to estimate
densities, and estimated that densities ranged from 12
thousand plants per feddan to slightly more than 20
thousand--with 44 percent of the fields in the under
18-thousand-plant category. Thus, even though farmers are
using greater quantities of seed than recommended, many are
getting plant population densities which are lower than

It is common practice to thin after the plants have
established themselves, both to avoid unnecessary crowding
and to obtain plants for feeding; the government recommends
thinning only once, although in practice many farmers thin
twice. On experiment stations and in on-farm trials,
thinning is usually done the third or fourth week after

Farmers in the 1979 maize survey were asked about
thinning, and the practices of trial farmers (who followed
the practice of one thinning only) were compared to those of
the nontrial farmers. It was found that 64 percent of the 72
nontrial farmers were thinning twice.

In 65 percent of the cases, nontrial farmers who
thinned twice reported that the second thinning occurred
more than 30 days after planting, with the height of the
thinned plants ranging between 45 and 110 centimeters. This
compared with the 16- to 40-centimeter height for thinned
plants reported by trial farmers who thinned only once and

Nontrial farmers reported that plants from the first
thinning were fed to livestock in 30 percent of the cases;
80 percent of the farmers who thinned a second time reported
using those plants as feed. Plants from the first thinning,
being less mature, can be toxic to animals, which is not the
case with those of the second thinning.

It seems likely that the second thinning, pulling out
plants with such well-developed root systems, may well
disturb the growth of plants remaining for grain production.
In any case, allowing the plants to become so large before
removal leads to their competition for nutrients with those
plants which are to remain.

Here it has been seen how far land preparation and
planting practices diverge from what is recommended;
however, it has not been clearly established that these
practices actually cause lower yields. Additional research
is required to determine just which of the various farmer
procedures are responsible and what improvements can be made
in those practices. Also more work needs to be done with
small farmers who do not have access to tractors--to develoD
better tillage-planting systems for them.


Fertilization and plant nutrition are areas where, in
some ways, Egyptian farmers appear to be ahead of the
government. They view the use of fertilizer as the best way
for increasing yields and apply heavy doses of chemical
fertilizer and manure from their livestock. The main
nutrient used is nitrogen, which is recommended and supplied
in various forms by the government. As survey data show,
application levels vary widely among farmers, with some
using less and others more than the recommended amounts;
some farmer application practices also differ from the
recommendations. Given Egypt's high nitrogen use and modest
yields, there is reason to believe that nitrogen-use
efficiency is low. This leads to the question of which
fertilization practices, or related factors such as water
management, may be responsible for the low efficiency.

Since early in this century, the Institute of Soil and
Water Research (ISWR) of the Ministry of Agriculture has
conducted fertilizer response experiments on all of Egypt's
major crops. These experiments took on a new dimension after
1960 when the government assumed full responsibility for
fertilizer production, import and distribution. ISWR
research results then became the basis, albeit subject 0o
the limits of financial realities and fertilizer

availability, for setting recommended fertilizer application
rates; these rates were in turn used to determine the
amounts of fertilizer for allocation and distribution
through the government's agricultural cooperative system.
This system was accompanied by a dramatic increase in
fertilizer application levels on all crops, but particularly
on maize. National average application levels of nitrogen on
maize rose from an estimated 13 kg per feddan in 1950 to 63
kg per feddan in 1975 (Gomaa, 1980).

The current national average application level of 60 kg
of N per feddan is equivalent to 143 kg of N per hectare.
Egyptian and international maize research workers contend
that Egyptian maize yields, which average 3700 kg per
hectare, are low for the level of N applied. An accepted
norm among plant nutrition experts is that a maize crop
yielding 3000 kg per hectare would remove 72 kg of N from
the soil, and much of that would be available from the soil
itself. While average N application in Egypt is double this
norm, maize yields are only 25 percent higher. Thus, it
would appear that there is a substantial margin of N which
is lost.

Leaching and denitrification due to excess moisture are
possible causes for low nitrogen efficiency, as is nitrogen
volatilization at the time of application. It is also
possible that farmers purposely cultivate their maize and
use fertilizer in such a way as to encourage vegetative
growth which can be used for livestock feed, to the
detriment of grain yields. Another explanation is that other
nutrients, such as phosphates or zinc, may not be in proper
balance, thus reducing nitrogen efficiency.

Although the government has tried to distribute
chemical fertilizer in increasing quantities, it is clear
that farmers want still.more. Some 65 percent of the smaller

farmers cited the use of more fertilizer, or fertilizer plus
other factors, as the best way to increase crop yields; 58
percent of the larger farmers also named fertilizer in their
response to the question.

It is clear that the government pricing policy has
played a prominent role in inducing farmers to use more N on
their maize. Although fertilizer was taxed in the sixties,
it has been heavily subsidized since 1973. Gomaa has shown
that there is a strong inverse relationship between the
amount of N used per feddan and the fertilizer-to-maize
price ratio (Figure 5). Since 1973, N price has been kept
quite stable by the government, first at about 14.5 piastres
per kg and, after 1979, at about 15.5 piastres per kg, less
than half the world market price.

The government-controlled system has been very
successful to date in promoting increased nitrogen
application rates on maize. To continue to be, it is
important that fertilizer response experiments be well
designed and their results properly interpreted, and that
national production be sufficient and government financial
resources available to back official recommendations.

In 1975, the ISWR published the results of 26 maike
fertilization experiments which it had conducted from 1966
to 1968 at different locations in the Delta, Middle Egypt
and Upper Egypt. The purpose of the trials was to determine
optimum rate of fertilizer application, and the resulting
figure for the country as a whole was 45 kg of nitrogen ner
feddan of maize.

Gomaa (1980) was critical of the experimental
procedures and interpretations which were based on them, for
several reasons. He found that there was often little
uniformity in conditions (control factors) among the




Qu0rtity of N
\ o P pr r fWI o o

(-*v of N)-.(Price of M0i) -

S90 9t 4 Cs 99 70 7 74 ; 76 rr

FIGURE 5. National Average Nitrogen Use on Maize and the Nitrogen-to-
Maize Price Ratio

Source: Gomaa (1980)



experiments which were conducted in different locations in
different years--aside from controlling for preceding crop,
for example, there was no attempt to insure that soils were
uniform or that initial nutrient levels were comparable. He
further criticized the procedures which were followed in
economic interpretation of results, pointing out that only
the profitability of widely spaced fixed levels was
considered and that this permitted only very rough
findings--for example, in the Nile Delta 60 kg. of N per
feddan is more profitable than 45. Gomaa was further
perplexed to observe that, while experiments were
interpreted by the ISWR to distinguish only between broad
regions, the Ministry of Agriculture always developed
recommendations for each governorate, or in some cases for
distinct areas in each governorate. Furthermore, he pointed
out, experiments found differences in response depending
upon the preceding crop, but official recommendations never
took this into account.

Nevertheless, the government's fertilizer policy is
based on these research findings. To arrive at an estimate
of national needs, the recommended levels for each crop are
multiplied by the area which is expected to be planted. If
national financial resources are insufficient,
recommendations are revised downward, as happened after the
1967 war. In theory, the amounts which are planned are
procured, either from domestic sources or through
importation, and these supplies allocated to farmers at the
recommended levels. Farmers receive credit from village
banks to cover the recommended amount; additional quantities
can be procured from the cooperative for cash, supplies
permitting. In practice, distribution is sometimes erratic,
and not all cooperatives receive adequate or timely
fertilizer supplies. Even when fertilizer is available in
the cooperatives, policy can prevent its distribution to
some farmers, and credit is not always a-vailable.

A tour of village cooperatives (gamaeyas) reveals that
of the three main inputs which these agencies supply, seed,
fertilizer and chemical pesticides, fertilizers are most
likely to be available. Nevertheless, farmers complain that
they cannot always find the fertilizer they need, when it is
needed, at the gamaeyas. In the Middle Egypt survey, 40
percent of the sample farmers claimed that fertilizer was
not available at their gamaeya. When asked why they did not
use more fertilizer, however, only 4 percent of the Middle
Egypt farmers cited nonavailability at the cooperative as a
reason; 55 percent said they did not use more due to cost.

Of the 160 farmers interviewed in the 1976 Delta
survey, 71 percent said they would apply more nitrogen if it
were available, and 14 percent said they lacked credit to
apply more; only 15 percent said they were applying enough.
It is well-known that the credit system is used as an
instrument to force farmer compliance with the government's
planned cropping pattern. Farmers who do not plant as much
of a specific crop as required by the official plan
sometimes have difficulty in obtaining supplies from the
gamaeya or credit from the village bank.

Although the government is the sole supplier of
fertilizer, farmers have recourse to a parallel market to
obtain supplies over and above what is available through the
gamaeya. This is because a substantial amount of supplies
from the government system eventually arrive on the free
market. This happens in a number of ways. Allocations to
some farms and/or regions are in excess of their needs, and
some of those supplies are transferred to farmers or regions
which did not obtain sufficient amounts. Undoubtedly, some
of the supplies on the free market are the result of
questionable practices either at the local level or higher
up in the system. Although it is expensive compared to

official prices (Table 8), the market fills a need by
shifting supplies around to places where they are needed,
and farmers are willing to pay for the additional supplies.

TABLE 8. Sources and Prices of Nitrogen Used on Maize

(percent) (piastres/kg)

Lower Egypt
Cooperatives 83.0 16.3
Private Sales 17.0 25.9

Upper Egypt
Cooperatives 67.3 15.6
Private Sales 32.7 26.8

Source: 1979 Survey

The average N application level for the 160 farmers in
the 1976 Delta Survey was 63.2 kg per feddan, higher than
the 54 kg-per-feddan average recommendation for various
governorates in the area at the time (Gomaa, 1980). The gap
between recommendations and practices was even greater in
Middle Egypt. The 1977 survey found that the 182 sample
farmers in that region applied an average of 96.2 kg per
feddan to maize, almost 50 percent more than the average 66
kg-per-feddan recommendation for governorates in the zone
(Table 9).

TABLE 9. Nitrogen Application Levels of Survey Farmers

(kg/feddan) (percent of farmers)

0-50 22.3 9.9
50-100 63.9 42.9
100+ 13.8 47.1

Average Application 63.2 kg/feddan 96.2 kg/feddan

Nitrogen is not the only nutrient farmers apply to
their maize. Most apply animal manure, a practice not
followed on experiment stations, and some farmers also apply
phosphates, although government experiments and on-farm
trials have not shown response to its use.

In the Delta it was found that 96 percent of the
farmers interviewed applied manure to their fields. The
average was about 363 donkey loads per feddan, with each
load estimated to measure about 0.1 cubic meter in volume.
About half reported applying new manure while the other half
used old (rotted or composted) manure. In the Middle Egypt
survey, over 70 percent reported that they manured their
fields. About 16 percent of the Middle Egypt farmers used
phosphate fertilizers with an average application rate of
just over 23 kg of P205 per feddan. Analysis of the data
revealed that farmers used either phosphate or manure, not
both (Fitch et al, 1979).

One of the most striking results of the Middle Egypt
survey was the prevalence of split applications of N with an
average of 2.3 applications. Forty-one percent of the
farmers reported three applications, and over 4 percent made
5 or 6. There was a strong positive relationship between the
number of applications and the total amount of N applied. It
may be that farmers who want to apply more N find it
necessary to split their applications, or it may be that the
belief in the value of making many applications leads to
higher amounts of N. The number of applications may be
related to supply factors at the gamaeya, in that there is
never quite enough fertilizer available to meet the demand
and so farmers are forced to apply it in smaller doses as it
comes in. The farmers also may split up the N in order to
minimize leaching or denitrification. At any rate, there is
a positive correlation between maize yields and the number
of N applications (Table 10).

'ABLE 10. Fertilizer Use by Survey Farmers

(kg PO 5/ (percent
(kg/feddan) feddan) farmers)

Average*: 97.99 2.79 3.63 70.2
High 268.00** 6 45.00 --
Low 1.69** 1 0 -

Yield Categories:
Less than 8 Ardebs 80.69 2.55 1.86 75.0
8-11 Ardebs 95.69 2.64 1.82 75.9
More than 11 Ardebs 114.66 3.11 6.74 67.3

Giza 94.55 2.00 4.62 95.8
Fayoum 72.75 2.57 1.76 76.4
Beni Suef 92.83 2.52 0 85.7
Menia 110.70 3.25 2.09 51.3
Assuit 123.77 3.29 10.76 57.1
Sohag 117.84 3.82 10.86 45.5

Source: Middle Egypt Survey, 1977
* Averages based on 141 farmers with one maize plot only
** Maize researchers are skeptical of these extremes

Fertilizer application varies according to
circumstances. An analysis of the Middle Egypt data showed
that larger farms tended to apply relatively less N than
smaller farms. It also showed that N levels varied among
governorates and depended upon the preceding crop (Fitch,
Goueli and El Gabely, 1979). A surprising factor in the
latter case is that farmers apply more N--and also more
manure--to maize planted after berseem clover than after
other crops. Clover, being a legume, is normally expected to
be a nitrogen supplier but, evidently, Egyptian farmers
believe otherwise; perhaps, too, not all Egyptian berseem
has favorable rhizobial bacteria.

All of the farmers reported applying N by hand. In
Middle Egypt, 91.0 percent reported applying it "far" from
the plants, whereas 9.1 percent said they placed it "near"
the plants; the remaining few said that they broadcast

Timing of irrigation after N application is an
important consideration, from the point of view of N-use
efficiency. When fertilizer absorbs moisture from the soil
or from dew, and then is exposed to high temperatures from
the sun before irrigation, there is danger of loss of N
through volatilization. This is particularly true for urea
fertilizer, but there is also a chance of loss from ammonium
nitrate under the same conditions. The volatilization occurs
in all soils, but most readily in alkaline soils. (Studies
conducted by IRRI in the Philippines show that N loss due to
volatilization can reach as high as 70 percent'for
handbroadcast urea on rice fields.)

In 1975, 36 percent of the N applied in Egypt was
derived from urea fertilizer and 54 percent from ammonium
nitrates of various strengths. Urea use has been increasing
more rapidly than other sources--it accounted for only 2

percent of the N in 1965--and it is expected to increase in
importance even further as a result of Egypt's new urea
plants at Abu Khir and Talkha. Therefore, Egypt will be
depending even more heavily on sources of N that are subject
to volatilization loss.

In the 1979 survey, maize farmers were asked to
indicate how much time elapsed between N application and
irrigation. Almost 50 percent of the farmers reported delays
in excess of six hours, while almost a quarter had delays of
more than 12 hours. At this point, evidence is not
sufficiently complete to say whether this degree of delay is
sufficient to lead to substantial N loss, but it provides a
possibility for further investigation.

A 1978 wheat survey points to evidence suggesting that
the delay in irrigation following N application is related
to the type of irrigation device used by the farmer. The
surprising factor from that survey was that farmers who
depended on the most ancient and labor intensive of
irrigation devices, the Archimedian screw, reported shorter
delays than farmers using motor pumps. To explain this fact,
survey enumerators stated that motor pumps tend to be used
in areas where water supply is a problem--a pump can often
lift water from ditches with lower water levels than can
other devices--and that pumps are also usually in short
supply, resulting in farmers waiting longer periods for them
to become available.

There is one other aspect of timing that is crucial
with respect to nitrogen-use efficiency, and that is the
time of application in the plant's life cycle. The
recommended practice is to make a first application of N
(about half of the total to be applied) within 10 to 25 days
of planting to support early plant development. It is
recommended that the second half be applied 35 to 45 days

after planting, well before the flowering period which
usually occurs 55 to 60 days following planting.

As pointed out earlier, farmers in Middle Egypt were
found to average between two and three separate N
applications. In the 1979 maize survey, more detailed
questions were asked about the timing of the applications,
and the farmers were found to have departed far from the
recommended norms (Table 11). More than 20 percent reported
making the first application later than 25 days after
planting; more than 10 percent reported making the second
application later than 50 days after planting and about 38
percent reported making a third application later than 50
days after planting. Thus, it appears that a substantial
portion of farmers made first N applications which were too
late to support early plant growth, while an even greater
proportion made a second or a third application after the
flowering period, too late to be effectively assimilated for
optimum plant growth and grain yield.

The cross tabulation with yields, shown in Table 8,
supports the belief that higher N applications lead to
higher yields. In a previous paper, Fitch et al used the
same Middle Egypt data to make a regression analysis with
maize yields as the dependent variable, and utilizing
fertilizer, application practices, preceding crop and
planting methods as independent variables. It must be
pointed out that credibility of this analysis was subject to
some doubt to begin with, since the only yield variable
available from the survey was the farmer's expected yield at
midseason. Nevertheless, the results did have some interest.

Based on the regression, Fitch and his colleagues used
marginal analysis and assumed a variety of possible
conditions, in order to derive the optimum levels of N which
would apply. Their results are shown in Table 10. These

TABLE 11. Nitrogen Application Timing, 72 Nontrial Farmers


Percent of Farmers
Applying N 2.8 34.7 51.4 11.1

Average Percentage of
Total N Applied 40.6 39.0 14.8 5.6

Timing of Application
(Days after Planting) (percent of farmers)
With Planting 4.2
11-15 16.7
16-20 30.6 2.8
21-25 25.0 2.8
26-30 12.5 9.7
31-35 8.3 20.8
36-40 2.8 27.8 2.8
41-45 15.3 6.9
46-50 6.9 12.5
51-55 6.9 11.1
56-60 1.4 15.3
61-65 2.8 4.2
66-70 4.2
71-75 1.4
76-80 1.4
81-85 2.8

Source: 1979 survey
* Timing information not collected for fourth application

results suggest that those farmers who are forced to rely on
free market sources (high prices) would logically choose to
apply lower levels of N and that they might also apply less
N following broad beans. This is consistent with the lower
application levels after broad beans which were actually
observed in the Middle Egypt survey. Based on the results
shown in Table 10, farmers with very low costs of N
application--small farms with surplus family labor, for
example--might choose to use more N, provided, of course,
that funds to buy the extra fertilizer are not a limiting
factor. Surplus labor or low application costs would
certainly favor splitting the N into a greater number of

An attempt to corroborate these findings with
regressions based on 1979 maize survey data was not
successful. Even so, survey results suggest that
application rates are influenced by preceding crop, planting
method, fertilizer price and application costs. This is only
suggestive of some of the factors and circumstances which
cause farmer fertilizer application levels and practices to
vary as widely as they do in Egypt and of reasons why these
practices diverge as far as they do from government
recommendations. These findings suggest a number of avenues
for needed future research.

With the growing recognition that farmers are applying
more N to their maize, on average, than has been recommended
in the past, on-farm fertilizer trials have already been
redirected to focus on higher levels. Until now, the trials
have shown little response to application levels above 90 kg
per feddan; however the two-application approach should be
considered from the point of view of the potential benefits
of split applications under typical on-farm irrigation
systems. Greater use of split applications may be one way to
raise N-use efficiency in Egypt.

The three farmer surveys did not delve deeply into
irrigation practices, other than the kind of irrigation
devices used and the frequency and timing of irrigation.
Irrigation technology was found to vary by region (Table 12)
and by parcel size, with Middle Egypt farmers relying on the
Archimedian screw and gravity flow to obtain their water,
whereas the water wheel dominated in the Delta. In Middle
Egypt, also, smaller parcels of land were found to be served
more by the Archimedian screw while larger parcels relied
on motor pumps.

TABLE 12. Irrigation Systems Used by Survey Farmers

(percent of farms)

Sakia (Persian Wheel) 80.1 6.8
Tamboor (Archimedian Screw) 5.8 23.4
Motor (Fixed or Movable) 1.7 12.9
Gravity Flow 3.9 37.6
Other 8.5 19.3

As mentioned earlier, farmers irrigate a week to ten
days before planting (heraty system) or immediately after
(afeer); these are referred to as the planting irrigations.
The first irrigation following the planting irrigation is
timed to reach the fields after the plants have emerged; it
is recommended that it take place about three weeks after
planting. Thereafter, irrigation depends on soil conditions,
and normally would take place every two to three weeks.

A study conducted at three of Egypt's experiment
stations in the late 1950s concluded that the optimum timing
for the first irrigation following planting was 14 days,
with subsequent irrigations at 12-day intervals (Mustafa,
Ahmed and Fatah, 1962).

In all three of the surveys, farmers were found to
irrigate between 7 and 8 times, including the planting
irrigation. This means that, on average, irrigations occur
at about 16-day intervals which would appear to be an
adequate number. The number of irrigations varied
substantially, nevertheless, with some 9.2 percent of
farmers reporting as few as five irrigations in Middle
Egypt. There was also an indication that often the
irrigation following the planting irrigation (referred to by
farmers as the mohiya or "wetting" irrigation) does not take
place as soon as it should for optimum benefit.

In the Middle Egypt survey, more than 85 percent of the
farmers stated that increasing the number of irrigations
resulted in increased yields, and more than 95 percent
stated that heavy irrigations had a harmful impact on maize
yields. Thus, farmers appeared to have a reasonable
understanding of the basic moisture needs of the maize


Relatively little attention has been paid to the
problems caused Egyptian maize farmers by weeds, insects and
disease. When asked their opinion about weed problems,
farmers in the 1979 maize survey did not, in general,
believe that yields were greatly reduced by weeds. Sixty-two
percent stated that weeds had no effect and 27 percent some
impact; only 11 percent said that weeds had a great
yield-reducing effect.

Methods used for weed control are very labor intensive,
which may be economically sound in view of the abundant
available family labor. The surveys found no farmers to be
using chemical herbicides, and the village cooperatives did
not stock them. The majority of farmers weeded twice during
the growing season, as recommended, although there was a
marked difference in the number of weedings between Middle
Egypt and the Delta (Table 13). Survey farmers in the Delta
averaged 1.6 weedings, compared to 2.3 for farmers in Middle
Egypt. Almost all farmers reported using the hoe; one farmer
in the Delta reported hand pulling. In the 1979 survey,
farmers were asked to estimate the number of man hours
required to weed a feddan, and the quantity varied from 15
to 65 hours, with an average of 29.2 hours.

TABIE 13. Number of Weedinqs Reported by Survey PFarnicr;

(percent of farmers)

No Weeding 1.5 0.9 4.4
One Weeding 37.3 3.5 21.1
Two Weedings 56.2 58.3 54.5
Three Weedings 4.0 37.3 20.0
More than Three 1.0 -- --

Average Number of Weedings 1.62 2.32 1.90

It will be recalled that one reason for irrigating
before planting is to control weeds by causing their
germination prior to planting. The recommended weeding
practice is to weed first shortly before the first
irrigation, at about three weeks after planting. Just over
30 percent of the 1979 survey farmers reported the first
weeding as later than 21 days after planting, however, and
about 10 percent reported weeding more than 30 days after
planting. This may allow weeds to develop to the point where
they seriously compete for plant nutrients and moisture, and
they also may have developed such large roots that their
removal disturbs the soil enough to interfere with maize
plant growth. The only clues as to why farmers delay weeding
is that many are known to use weeds for livestock feed; in
the Middle Egypt survey, some 36 percent of the farmers
reported using them as feed.

There are several insects and diseases which present
problems for Egyptian farmers. Late wilt is a problem in all
zones, whereas the sesamia and ostrinia corn borers are a
threat in the Delta and the red spider in Middle Egypt.
Aphids are known to present problems, especially in Middle
Egypt, and whorl worms are also recognized as a threat.

Tables 14 and 15 show a tabulation of farmer responses
concerning insects and diseases, and how they control them.
It appears that there may have been some confusion among the
farmers as to whether they were responding about their
problems during the year of the survey or whether they were
responding as to whether they had ever experienced a
particular pest. Furthermore, some of the differences shown
between regions in the tables probably represent differences
in survey years. Nevertheless, the results are suggestive of
the problems which exist and how they vary between the Delta
and Middle Egypt.

TABLE 14. Insect, Disease Problems Reported by Survey Farmers

(percent farmers)

Aphids 41.1 30.4 35.6
Late Wilt 64.3 10.8* 4.4
Borers 27.9 0.8 15.6
Whorl Worms 22.2 1.4 ?
Green Worms 2.5 4.3 ?
Downy Mildew -- 0.8 --
Red spider -- 0.7 8.9
Smut ? ? 2.2

* A figure this low may be an indication that farmers did
not know how to identify late wilt or that there was
confusion in coding

TABLE 15. Pest Control Measures Used by Survey Farmers

(percent of farmers)

No Control 48.2 17.4 47.6 50.3
Hand Removal 33.0 67.4* 18.2 40.1*
Chemical Control 16.2 15.2 34.2 9.6**
Removal of Affected
Plant Parts 0.4 -- -- --
Other 2.2 -- -- -

Source: Middle Egypt Survey, 1977
* Hand removal possible for Sesamia but not Ostrinia corn
borer and not applicable for late wilt, another indication
farmers not identifying disease properly
** Chemical control not appropriate for late wilt

Aphids appear to be the most widely recognized pest
problem among farmers, although late wilt was also
frequently cited by Delta maize growers. Delta farmers also
reported a higher incidence of borers and whorl worms than
did Middle Egypt farmers.

As to how badly these attacks affect the maize plant
and yield, of the 22 1979 survey farmers who reported aphid
problems in the survey year, three indicated that they
expected no loss in yield, six reported an expected loss of
one ardeb (140 kg) or less, eight reported expectations of
two ardebs or less, and five from 2 to 4 ardebs. Of 13
farmers who reported borer attacks in the survey year, two
expected no loss, three expected an ardeb or less, five
expected from 1 to 2 ardebs, and three expected a 2-to-3-
ardeb loss. The four farmers who reported red spider attacks
said that they expected losses of from 0.5 to 4 ardebs.

Farmers do not appear to be very actively interested in
obtaining chemical pesticides to treat their insect and
disease problems. Chemicals are used in only 10 to 15
percent of the cases, most often for green worms; the rest
reported hand control techniques. When Middle Egypt farmers
were asked whether chemicals were available through the
local village cooperatives, seventy-six percent of the
respondents said that thay had not asked for them, 14
percent said that chemicals were available and 10 percent
that they were not available.

The village cooperatives are supposed to stock three
insecticides, Malathion (for aphids), Sevin (for whorl
worms) and DDT. Table 16 shows the results of a query of 20
village cooperatives in the Delta, made during the 1976
maize survey. Insecticides were often not available, so
farmers could not have obtained them if they had wanted to;
they seem to use some chemicals when available.

TABLE 16. Availability of Insecticides Reported by Twenty
Delta Village Cooperatives*


Malathion 10 0
Sevin 11 9
DDT 2 18

* 1976

It is important that pesticides be made more available
to the Egyptian farmer and that he see the role that they
can play in helping him to increase maize yields.


The maize plant contributes more in Egypt than just
grain for human and livestock consumption. One aspect of the
dual-purpose nature of maize, the practice of making a late
second thinning for livestock forage, has already been
discussed in Part V of this report. In addition, the leaves
and tops of the maize plant--removed while the plant is
still growing and before the ear is harvested--are also used
for livestock feed. These materials are available during the
midsummer period, when feed is scarce. At the end of the
season, the dry stalks are loaded on donkeys and taken to
the farmer's house in the village, where they are an
important source of fuel for cooking and heating. Thus,
strictly speaking, maize is a multiple-purpose crop, and it
is the two primary uses, grain production and livestock
fodder, which appear to be in conflict.

Stripping and topping have long been thought to reduce
maize grain yields, and thus have been discouraged by
agricultural officials. Experiment station research
conducted in the early 1960s showed that yield reductions of
up to 25 percent resulted from various combinations of

stripping and topping (Fawzi, Iskandar and Gouda, no date).
As a result of such evidence, the government has discouraged
the practices, encouraging farmers to set aside a small
portion of their crop land to grow densely planted forage
maize (darawa) or other forage crops for their animals.

The 1979 maize survey provided some information about
the value of fodder resulting from the growing maize plant.
Of the 90 farmers interviewed about their own (as opposed to
trial) maize fields, more than 60 percent stripped. Most of
those placed a value on the strippings, even though the vast
majority did not market stripped leaves. The values reported
ranged from 1.50 to 10 Egyptian pounds per feddan, with an
average value of 4.19 pounds. A similar proportion reported
topping and gave values similar to those of stripping.

The 1979 survey farmers who stripped reported that it
took at least eight hours to strip a feddan, with 40 percent
indicating times in excess of 27 hours. All but three of the
55 strippers reported that stripping was the work of men,
rather than women or children. Thus, it appears that it
takes a substantial amount of adult male effort to strip,
probably reflecting the importance of experience for
stripping properly.

The majority of farmers believe that stripping and
topping do not cause a decrease in maize yields; of the 1979
survey farmers reporting stripping, more than half reported
no resultant drop in yield. One-fourth said the loss was
only one ardeb per feddan or less, 16 percent said that it
was between one and two ardebs, and only 5 percent said the
loss was between two and three ardebs. On average, including
those farmers who thought the loss to be zero, the expected
loss from stripping was just over 0.5 ardebs or, at 1979
prices, about 5 Egyptian pounds.

In rough terms, then, based upon what farmers reported
in the 1979 survey, one would expect stripped leaves to have
a value of more than 4 pounds per feddan and a cost, in
terms of reduced yield, of roughly the same amount or
perhaps somewhat more. In addition to this, there would be
the cost of the two to three days of labor which stripping
requires. Clearly, the farmer places little if any value on
his labor if he strips. Stripping is time consuming, but it
is not heavy work and it occurs in the latter part of the
summer, after the planting of summer crops but before the
heavy labor demands of harvest.

If surplus labor is a key factor, stripping could be
expected to be more common on small farms than on large and,
truly, the Middle Egypt survey showed that 66 percent of the
farms of less than five feddans stripped in contrast to only
41 percent of those of more than five feddans. This would
tend to confirm the theory that stripping is related to
surplus labor; also, however, smaller farms have higher
livestock densities so the demand for fodder must be
considered as well.

If wages continue to rise in rural Egypt and if
seasonal slacks in the labor force diminish, the practice of
stripping may disappear. Similarly, if livestock numbers and
the demand for summer feed decrease, stripping and topping
should decline in importance. A recent study by Fitch and
Soliman (1981), however, shows that, although Egyptian
agriculture has become more and more mechanized, livestock
is on the increase, due to its subsistence role on small

The surveys showed a considerable difference between
zones in the extent to which farmers practiced stripping. In
the Delta survey, 80 percent of the farmers reported
stripping, compared to less than 70 percent in Middle Egypt.

In the Delta, most farmers who stripped reported stripping
two or three times, whereas most in Middle Egypt stripped
only once (Table 17).

TABLE 17. Survey Farmers Reporting Stripping

No Stripping 20 39
One Stripping 28 36
Two Strippings 32 24
Three Strippings 20 1

The Middle Egypt maize survey proved, beyond a doubt,
that farmers strip in a carefully planned manner.
Furthermore, their method was not the same as that of the
experiments which showed that stripping reduced yields. The
experiments had entailed dividing the maize plant into four
quarters (the ear representing the half point) and removing
leaves from one, two, three or four of the quarters in an
effort to detect impact. All of the leaves which were
removed were taken at one time, either 20 or 35 days after
silking. While these experiments were useful, they did not
duplicate farmer practice. The field surveys showed that
farmers started from the bottom of the plant and worked
upward, usually stopping before the ear leaf.

A tabulation of the Middle Egypt data is indicative of
why stripping, as practiced by farmers, may have little
effect on grain yields. Table 18 lists various stripping
practices. Of those farmers who strip, the majority (59
percent) strip only once. The first stripping most often
results in the taking of four leaves and the second, when
employed, three. Few farmers take the leaf next to the ear
leaf, and none take the ear leaf itself or those above it.

The first stripping seldom occurs earlier than 40 days
before harvest (11-20 days after flowering), and the second,

TABLE 18. Maize Stripping Practices of Survey Farmers

(number) (percent) STRIPPING

Taking Only Green Leaves
Taking Green and Dry Leaves
Taking Only Dry Leaves
Stripping Only Once
Stripping Twice
Stripping Ear Leaf or Above
Taking up to Ear Leaf
Average No. of Leaves Taken on
Average No. of Leaves Taken on
Average Total Leaves Taken

28 15.1
70 37.8
14 7.6
66 35.7
46 24.9
0 0.0
24 13.0
First Stripping :
Second Stripping:

Source: Middle Egypt Survey, 1977

30 days before (21-30 days after flowering). Many farmers
strip within 20 days of harvest (31-40 days after flowering)
(Table 19). In other words, farmers strip in such a manner
that plant vigor is not lessened during the grain-filling

The 1977 survey also served to clarify farmers' maize
topping practices. Almost all farmers reported removing the
whole top, the majority (63 percent) 12 days or less before
harvest. Thus, topping, like stripping, seems carefully
executed to have a minimal effect on yields.

TABLE 19. Time of Stripping Reported by Survey Farmers

HARVEST* FLOWERING** (no.) (percent) (no.) (percent)

Less than 20 31-50 17 15.2 16 34.8
20 to 29 21-30 36 32.1 22 47.8
30 to 39 11-20 41 36.6 4 8.7
40 or More -10 12 10.7 4 8.7

Total Farms 112 46

Source: Middle Egypt Survey, 1977
* Harvest expected to occur at about 105 days after planting
** Flowering at about 55 days after planting


Since 1978, Agricultural Research Center maize
scientists have redesigned their stripping experiments to
more closely follow farmers' practices. Fewer leaves are
taken, the ear leaf is not disturbed and stripping is
conducted later in the plant's life cycle. While the results
of these experiments have not been officially released,
research workers feel that yields are little affected.

While stripping may not greatly reduce the yields of
the common local maize varieties, there is always the chance
that it could reduce the yields of new varieties being
developed. This could cause such varieties to be rejected by
the many small farmers who must, for the time being,
continue to rely on stripped leaves as a vital source of
summer forage for their livestock. Therefore, as long as
farmers rely on stripping for fodder, it is recommended that
maize breeders ensure that rain yields of new varieties are
not too sensitive to stripping as it is practiced by

Aside from the issue of the physical effects of
stripping and topping per se, there is the broader issue of
maize as a single-purpose versus maize as a dual-purpose
crop. So far, there is insufficient physical or economic
evidence available to demonstrate that raising two single-
purpose crops (maize as a strictly grain crop and maize or
some other crop as a forage crop) is superior to raising
maize as a dual-purpose crop. The clear challenge to
researchers in the future is to explore this issue more

More research must be pointed toward the benefits and
costs of alternative forage crops. Recently, Ministry
agencies have promoted elephant grass as a permanent forage
crop and have distributed a limited amount of seed for
forage sorghums and Sudan grass. Nevertheless, in 1981,

there was still little sound information available as to
forage production alternatives for the summer months.


It has been noted that farmers in Egypt are not
achieving yields which are as high as their circumstances
seem capable of producing. One of the reasons for deducing
that farmers are not achieving up to potential is that
on-farm trials conducted in the National Maize Program
consistently produce higher yields than most farmers achieve
on their own. Of course, if the on-farm trial procedure is
not valid--that is, if the trials are not conducted under
circumstances which are representative for most Egyptian
farmers, and if they do not employ inputs and procedures
which typical farmers can be expected to adopt--then the
results are not valid representations of farmer potential.
The 1979 Maize Survey was designed to monitor the on-farm
trial system. Some results of that survey have been cited
earlier in this paper; here they are examined again, with
specific emphasis on the validity of the trial process
itself, in order to examine the reasons for the yield gap
between trial and nontrial farmers.

On-farm trials can be a means for testing varieties and
technologies which are often first developed on experiment
stations under controlled farming conditions. In this case,
the purpose of the trial system was to verify that higher
yields could be obtained using available technology applied
under typical or representative farming conditions. Trials
could show which factors made the adoption of new practices
difficult. By involving farmers in the research process, a
means of feedback would be provided for the research system,

permitting it to develop inputs and technologies appropriate
for typical farming situations and easy for farmers to

The procedures used in these on-farm trials were based
on the recommended practices of the National Maize Program.
Seedbed preparation followed the recommended ridging system,
which the trial farmer carried out under the supervision of
the Maize Program farm trial teams. An irrigation was
applied immediately after seeding, utilizing whatever
irrigation system and devices were available to the farmer.
Ninety kilograms of N, supplied by the government, were
applied in two equal applications, the first 10 to 25 days
after planting, and the second 35 to 45 days after planting.
The trials did not include the application of phosphate or
manure. Trial farmers were directed to thin once, in the
third or early in the fourth week after planting; they were
instructed to weed twice, once in the third week and once in
the fith week after planting. All of these operations were
supervised or verified by the Maize Program's trial team. No
topping of maize plants was permitted.

For the trials, twenty-four maize farmers were chosen
from throughout Egypt--one from each of two villages located
in the twelve maize producing governorates of the country.
While some effort was made to select representative farmers,
other criteria were also considered in the selection of
trial farmers. Because of the need to monitor and collect
data about trial results, and because trials can also serve
as demonstrations for nontrial farmers, readily accessible
fields adjacent to roads were selected. Farm and field size
were also considered. It was believed that larger farmers
would find it easier to allocate a small parcel for trials
without seriously disrupting their normal cropping cycle,
and that they were better able to afford to risk loss,
should the trial fail.

One of the purposes of the 1979 Maize Survey was to
determine the extent to which trial maize farms were
representative of average or typical conditions. For the
survey, three farmers were selected at random from the same
villages as the trial farms. This provided a sample of 72
nontrial farmers who were interviewed along with the 24
trial farmers. Table 20 shows how some of the basic
attributes of the trial farmers compared to those of the
nontrial farmers. The age distribution of the two groups was
about the same. More than 60 percent of the nontrial farmers
were illiterate, compared to just half of the trial farmers;
a much higher proportion of the trial farmers had school
graduation certificates. Table 20 also shows the difference
in farm size, with trial farms averaging 10.1 feddans,
compared to 3.36 feddans for the sample of nontrial farms. A
much higher proportion of trial farmers were land owners;
more than 70 percent of the trial maize plots were owned by
the farmer, whereas more than half of the fields of nontrial
farmers were rented.

While trial farmers, as a group, appear to be somewhat
different from nontrial farmers, none of the characteristics
noted above is necessarily related to differences in maize
yields. Investigations based on the earlier surveys did not
show yield differences to be related to differences in
literacy, farm size or land tenure per se. The recent study
by Khedr, Petzel and Monke (1981) also confirms that farm
size and literacy are not directly contributing factors to
production performance. Nevertheless, it is possible that
some of the differences in farmer characteristics are
indirectly responsible for differences in maize yields.


Table 21 summarizes the yield results of the 1979
on-farm variety trials. It compares these to yields obtained

TABLE 20. Characteristics of Trial and Nontrial Farmers


Age of Farmers
21-40 33.3 32.3
41-60 45.9 50.0
Over 60 20.8 17.7

Literacy of Farmers
Illiterate 50.0 61.1
Can Read and Write 33.3 37.5
Read and Write Plus
School Certificate 16.7 1.4

Farm size
Under 1 Feddan -- 4.2
1 to 3 Feddans 16.6 62.5
3 to 5 Feddans 25.0 20.8
5 to 15 Feddans 29.2 12.5
Over 15 Feddans 29.2

Average Farm Size 10.1 feddans 3.36 feddans

Source: 1979 Survey

by 18 of the trial farmers on their own nontrial fields and
to yields obtained by the 72 nontrial farmers. The highest
average yield for an improved variety in the trials was 18.7
ardebs per feddan, compared to 17.0 ardebs for the "best"
local variety raised on the trial plots. These results
suggest that the high on-farm trial yields are far more than
a matter of variety, since the local variety, used as a
trial control, averaged almost as high as several of the
improved varieties. In the 1980 on-farm trials, farmers
provided their own local variety for use as a trial control;
although the gap between their average yields was somewhat
greater, local varieties used in the trial still averaged
17.8 ardebs per feddan (Table 22), much higher than national
average maize yields.

Average yields of 12.8 ardebs were reported by trial
farmers who raised their own maize varieties on their own

TABLE 21. Average Yields of Trial Farms and Nearby Nontrial Farms

(ardebs/feddan) VARIETIES

Delta 16.32 18.87 16.07 19.11 19.61 14.9 12.1

Egypt 12.93 16.97 14.09 18.37 14.43 8.7 8.5

Source: 1979 Maize Survey
* The "best" local for each area selected by researchers, based on past performance

TABLE 22. Average Yields in On-Farm Variety Trials, 1980

2EV2 5

Delta 21.82 19.71 20.79
Egypt 24.88 21.31 22.96

* Farmer's own local variety used as trial control








separate plots, compared to yields of 10.7 ardebs reported
by farmers in the same villages who were randomly selected
for the survey. This suggests that trial farmers employed
superior practices independently of anything imposed on them
by the trial process itself, or that they enjoyed superior
circumstances. However, the 12.8 ardebs achieved by trial
farmers on their own maize plots was still below those
obtained in the trials.

Are the differences between the yields obtained on
trial plots and those obtained on nontrial plots
significant? Given the nature of the data obtained in the
survey, it is difficult to say. The yields for the trial
plots were those of a complete harvest, measured by the
farmers with accurate weighing equipment and under the
careful supervision of the on-farm trial teams. Those yields
may also have been biased upward due to border effects of
the small trial plots. The yields reported for the nontrial
plots, on the other hand, were based on reports of the
farmers who probably did not have accurate weighing
equipment; thus, their yield reports could be expected to
contain errors. Nevertheless, the gap between the yields
reported for nontrial and trial maize plots were larger than
might readily be explained by errors in farmer yield
estimates. It is believed that trial plots actually did
produce higher yields, and that trial farmers obtained
higher yields with their own maize than did other farmers.

The analysis of the reasons for the yield differences
is highly subjective and in most cases is backed up by
little more than simple tables. However, attempts were made
to explain the differences through the use of statistical
regression analysis. In most cases, such analysis failed to
produce significant results. Evidently kinds and quality of
survey data was not of sufficient quality to support
sophisticated statistical analysis. Nevertheless, the

analysis was considered to be a necessary step in searching
for reasons for the yield differences which were observed.


While trial results affirmed that high yields were more
than a function of improved variety alone, they also suggest
that it can be an important factor. This is especially clear
from the 1980 trial results (Table 22), where the local
variety used as a control was the trial farmer's own local,
rather than the "best" local for the region, as used in
1979. In 1980, all of the improved varieties used in the
trials produced higher average yields than the locals.
Composite 2EV2, the synthetic which was produced by the
National Maize Program and which has now been released as
Giza 2, produced yields which averaged more than five ardebs
higher than the locals provided by trial farmers.

Previous Crop

The previous crop can be expected to affect maize
yields in two ways, through nutrient carryover and the
influence of the crop on the maize planting date. Trial
plots were not chosen to be representative with respect to
previous crop, as can be seen in Table 23. More trial maize

TABLE 23. A comparison of Previous Crop for Trial and
Nontrial Maize Plots

(24) TRIAL FARMS (90)

Wheat 58.3 41.2
Berseem Clover 20.8 42.1
Broad Beans 12.5 7.9
Flax 4.2 0.9
Winter Vegetables 4.2 7.9

Source: 1979 Survey

plots were planted following wheat and fewer following
berseem clover than was the case for nontrial plots.

Planting Date

As was discussed in Part V of this report, recommended
planting date may be difficult for farmers to follow,
particularly if they raise berseem clover prior to maize and
need to prolong its availability for livestock feed.
Nevertheless, the 1979 survey found that only three (4
percent) of the nontrial farmers planted their maize either
before May 1 or after June 15, the times which would
normally be considered too early or too late for planting.
In contrast, three (13 percent) of the trial plots were
planted after June 15. Therefore, it does not appear that
failure to adhere to recommended planting dates could be
cited as a reason for the low nontrial maize yields observed
in the 1979 survey.

Seedbed Preparation and Seeding

This is an area where there are substantial differences
between trial and nontrial maize plots. While the
recommended practices are to seed in holes on ridges, as
described earlier, the ridging system normally requires a
tractor for land preparation. Whereas 87 percent of trial
plots were plowed with a tractor, less than half of the
nontrial farmers' plots were tractor plowed; a third were
plowed with animals and almost 20 percent were not plowed at
all (Table 24).

The heraty system of irrigating prior to seedbed
preparation is normally required to soften the land so as to
facilitate animal plowing, and indeed some 24 percent of the

TABLE 24. Plowing Practices, Trial and Nontrial Maize Plots

(24) FARMERS (18) FARMERS (72)

Tractor 87.5 66.7 45.9
Animal 12.5 5.6 33.3
Hoe -- 1.4
No Plowing -- 27.7 19.4

nontrial farmers employed heraty, whereas the afeer system
was followed for all of the trial plots.

When animal plowing is used, it is common to scatter
seed in the furrows behind the plow, rather than to plant in
holes on ridges, as is recommended. Whereas all of the trial
plots were seeded in holes on ridges, 29 percent of the
nontrial farmers reported seeding their maize in furrows. In
contrast, only 6 percent of the trial farmers reported
seeding behind animal-drawn plows on their own maize plots.

The differences reported for seedbed preparation and
seeding practices thus appear to be significant. The
contrast between the practices followed by nontrial farmers
and by trial farmers on their own plots suggest one
dimension in which the circumstances of trial farmers may
differ from those of ordinary farmers. The fact that trial
farmers tend to have larger farms and larger fields probably
explains why they are able to employ a higher degree of
tractor plowing, and thus why more of them are able.to
follow the recommendation of ridge planting.

Thinning and Weeding

The methods followed by farmers in thinning and weeding
were discussed in Parts V and VII of this report. All of the
trial plots were thinned only once, as recommended, but half
of the trial farmers thinned their own maize plots a second

time and 64 percent of the nontrial farmers thinned twice.
Whereas all of the trial plots were weeded twice, 25 percent
of the nontrial plots were weeded only once. The first
weeding was completed by the 21st day after planting on all
of the trial plots, but one-third of the nontrial farmers
delayed their first weeding beyond that date. Thus, there is
a substantial variance between the thinning and weeding
practices used on trial and nontrial plots.

Fertilizer Use

As previously noted, the trial plots received a 90 kg-
per-feddan application of N, but no phosphate or manure was
recommended. The average N application reported in the
survey for nontrial plots was 97 kg per feddan. The survey
showed that manure was applied to 29 percent of the nontrial
maize plots and to 33 percent of the trial plots. Phosphate
was applied to 21 percent of the nontrial plots and to only
8 percent of the trial plots. Presumably, some trial farmers
believed so strongly in the need for manure or phosphate
that they applied these materials even though they were not

Although nontrial farmers were found to apply only
slightly more N than the amount used on the trials, there
was a marked contrast in the number and timing of the
applications. Whereas all of the trial plots received two
applications of N, as recommended, more than 60 percent of
the nontrial farmers applied N to their maize in three or
four separate applications, and a similar percentage of
trial farmers made three or four applications to their own
nontrial plots of maize. Whereas all of the trial plots
received their last (second) application of N at least 55
days before harvest, 33 percent of the nontrial farmers
applied their last N application 45 days or less before

harvest. Only 11 percent of the trial farmers applied N this
late to their own maize plots.

There also appears to have been more opportunity for
the N to volatilize on nontrial plots--while 95 percent of
the trial plots received irrigation water 12 hours or less
after N application, 25 percent of all nontrial plots
received irrigation more than 12 hours after the N was

There was an interesting difference in the source of
the fertilizer used by the nontrial farmers and that used by
trial farmers on their own plots. Whereas all of the trial
farmers obtained the N used for the first application on
their own plots from the village cooperative, only 87
percent of the nontrial farmers received theirs from the
cooperative; the remainder had to procure theirs on the open
market. Thus, it appears that trial farmers had greater
access to fertilizer at the low prices offered by the

Stripping and Topping

There was no stripping or topping of maize plants on
the trial plots. Whereas more than two-thirds of the
nontrial farmers followed the practice of stripping, only
one-third of the trial farmers followed that practice on
their own maize plots. Similarly, more than 70 percent of
the nontrial farmers reported topping, while less than 40
percent of the trial farmers topped their own nontrial maize

The procedures and timing followed by farmers in
stripping and topping were discussed in Part VIII of this
report. Little evidence could be found in survey data to
indicate that the particular procedures used by farmers had

negative impacts on yields, although many farmers stated
that the practices reduced yields. Earlier in this chapter
it was noted that most of the attempts to explain yield
differences in the 1979 survey data with regression analysis
were not successful. It is worth noting, however, that the
dummy variable for stripping was one of the few that
consistently proved to be significant. The sign of the
coefficient was negative, lending more credence to the idea
that it may well have a negative impact on yields.


This discussion has shown that the on-farm trial system
in Egypt is producing worthwhile evidence about the
potential benefits of both improved maize varieties and
production practices. The surveys have disclosed several
areas where farmer practices could be improved, among them
the timing of the application of fertilizer and irrigation
water, seed selection techniques for those farmers planting
seed from earlier production, the timing of the second
weeding and the entire question of thinning including
thinning techniques. Also brought out are opportunities for
improving the distribution of seed, insecticides and
fertilizer, although fertilizer use is already widespread.
Questions still remain as to tillage practices for farmers
with little access to tractors.

There is a continuing need to focus research on these
and other questions relative to the circumstances of Egypt's
small farmers. They produce the bulk of the country's maize
and, with their small resource base, would be most helped by
such research.

Information from surveys conducted in conjunction with
the 1979 trials suggest that farmers may find some of the
improved practices difficult to follow, for example, seedbed

preparation. This may also be true of other elements of
apparently improved technology. Trials tend to be held on
larger farms and, therefore, may not be representative of
typical Egyptian farming conditions.

The fact that trial farms tend to be larger, and trial
farmers better educated than the average, suggest that they
may enjoy certain advantages which others do not. In
addition to having better access to tractors for plowing,
trial farmers may also have advantages in the acquiring of
seed and fertilizer; the fact that they are more timely in
their application of nitrogen may reflect that supplies at
the cooperatives are more available to them. As a result, it
may not be realistic to expect trial yields to be matched by
all farmers.

While there is an understandable need to select trial
plots for a number of characteristics other than that of how
representative they are, the trial process would surely
benefit from increasing the proportion of small farms. It
would be revealing to include some farms of less than one
feddan in size, so that maize researchers could reach a
better understanding of the needs of those farmers. And, as
well as the researcher, Egyptian policy makers and extension
personnel would benefit from a clearer understanding of
their representative farmers.


Abdou, Dyaa, and Mohamed El Gabely, "Marketable Surplus of
Maize in Upper Egypt," mimeographed paper. Zagazig
University, 1980.

El Tobgy, Hassan A., Contemporary Egyptian Agriculture,
second edition. Cairo: The Ford Foundation, 1976.

Habashy, Nabil T., and James B. Fitch, "Egypt's Agricultural
Cropping Pattern: A review of the System by Which It Is
Managed," Micro-Economic Study of the Egyptian Farm
System, Project Research Paper No.4. Cairo: Ministry of
Agriculture, 1981.

Fawzi, Abdel Latif, Azmy Z. Iskandar and Abdel Aziz E.
Gouda, "Effectiveness of Topping and Stripping on Yield
of Maize," mimeographed paper. Agricultural Research
Center, Ministry of Agriculture of Egypt, undated.

Fitch, J.B., A.A. Goueli, M. El Gabeli and S. Imam,
"Prices, Technical Response, and the Benefits and Costs
of Fertilizer Application," paper presented to the
Fifth Regional Cereals Workshop. Algiers, Algeria, May
5-9, 1979.

Fitch, J.B., A.A. Goueli and M. El Gabeli, "The Cropping
System for Maize in Egypt: Survey Findings and
Implications for Policy and Research," paper presented
to FAO Workshop on Improved Farming Systems in the Nile
Valley. Cairo, May 8-14, 1979.

Fitch, J.B., and Afaf Abdel-Aziz, "Cropping Intensity in
Egyptian Agriculture: An Assessment of its
Determinants," Micro-Economic Study of the Egyptian
Farm System, Project Research Paper No.5. Cairo:
Ministry of Agriculture, 1980.

Fitch, James B., and Ibrahim Soliman, "The Livestock Economy
in Egypt: An Appraisal of the Current Situation,"
Economics Working Paper, No. 29, Agricultural
Development Systems Project/Egypt-California, June

Gomaa, Mohamed Z., "Maize Yield Response and Fertilizer Use
Under Farm Conditions in Egypt," Research Bulletin No.
48 (Arabic). Zagazig: Zagazig University, 1979.

Goueli, A.A., M.Z. Gomaa and A.S. Attia, "The Technology of
Maize Production in Egypt: A Survey of Delta Farmers in
1979," Research Bulletin (Arabic). Zagazig: Zagazig
University, 1977.

Goueli, A.A., M. El Gabeli, M.Z. Gomaa and A.S. Attia, "The
Technology of Maize Production in Egypt: A Survey of
Middle Egypt Farmers," Research Bulletin (Arabic).
Zagazig: Zagazig University, 1979.

Khedr, Hassan Aly, Todd E. Petzel and Eric Monke,
"Efficiency in the Production of Egyptian Maize,"
Draft, October, 1981.

Mustafa, Adly M., Aly Syed Ahmed and Mahmoud S. Abdel
Fattah, "Influence of Irrigation Intervals on Maize
Yield," al-Filaha, Vol. 1. Jan-Feb 1962.

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