A project to reclaim land in Egypt’s western desert has been expanded to one and half million feddans of prospective agricultural land, state-owned news agency MENA reported on Monday.
The target has been increased from one million feddans, each feddan equivalent to approximately one acre, in a move that hopes to boost the country's largest economic sector.
Since President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi took office more than a year ago, he has announced ambitious plans to drive economic growth through megaprojects.
Following the inauguration of an expansion of the Suez Canal, El-Sisi announced that the government will focus on the industrialisation of the canal's corridor and agriculture land reclamation.
The agriculture sector constitutes 17 percent of Egypt’s GDP.
The project includes digging over five thousand water wells for a total cost of LE6 billion ($766 million), according to an official in the irrigation and water resources ministry.
The drilling of 600 wells is underway in different areas of Egypt's western desert including Wadi Moghra in Munkhafad Al-Qattara (the Qattara Depression), Toshka region and Farafra oasis, the official said.
Underground water will supply eighty percent of what’s used for irrigation. The remaining twenty percent will come from the Nile River.
The project is to be implemented in stages, with the initial phase covering 220 thousand feddans, according to irrigation and water resources minister Hossam Moghazi.