Egypt is predominantly an agricultural country, with about 40 percent of the labor force engaged in crop farming or herding. The pattern of landownership was greatly altered by the Agricultural Reform Decree of 1952, which limited individual holdings to about 80 hectares (about 200 acres), a figure revised in 1961 to about 40 hectares (about 100 acres), and revised again to about 20 hectares (about 50 acres) in 1969. Lands requisitioned by the government were distributed to the fellahin (peasants), but an economic gap still remains between the middle-class farmers and the fellahin. Government programs have expanded arable areas through reclamation, irrigation (notably since the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970), and the use of advanced technology (fertilizers, mechanized equipment).
The yields of Egyptian farmlands are now among the highest in the world. Egypt is one of the world's leading producers of long-staple (long-fibered) cotton. Annual cotton lint production in the early 1990s was about 324,000 metric tons. Warm weather and plentiful water permit as many as three crops a year, giving Egypt abundant agricultural yields. In theearly 1990s principal cr, ranked by estimated value and annual production in metric tons, included rice (3.9 million), tomatoes (4.7 million), wheat (4.6 million), maize (5.2 million), sugarcane (11.6 million), potatoes (1.8 million), and oranges (1.7 million). A wide variety of other vegetables and fruits are also grown.
The principal pastoral industry of Egypt is the breeding of beasts of burden. The livestock population in the early 1990s included about 3 million cattle, 3 million buffalo, 4.4 million sheep, 4.8 million goats, 1.6 million asses, and 44 million poultry.
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