ALTHOUGH anciently as famous for her manufactures as for her husbandry, in all modern time the latter alone has been the staple industry of Egypt. Her old skill in the productive arts, which once surpassed that of Sidon and Tyre, has long been forgotten, and in the almost complete absence of mineral resources, for more than three thousand years agriculture has been the chief sup-port of her people and the main source of revenue to her Government. Before describing the methods and results of this great industry as at present carried on, it will be convenient to notice some of the principal conditions under which it is worked. These vary to some extent in different parts of the country, but they may be generally grouped under the four heads ofland tenure, rent, labour, and water-supply.
The first of these underwent but little change from the settlement made at the Arab conquest, which was the ordinary Moslem division of the conquered territory into kharadjieh (tributary), oushurieh (tithe), and war, or mosque landstill Mehemet All (in 1808) arbitrarily abolished all private title and declared the Government owner, not merely in fee but in usufruct, of almost the whole land of Egypt, giving instead a mere life-pension to the proprietors. This huge act of confiscation was, however, reversed by Said Pasha, who also abolished nearly all the monopolies established by his father, and old tenures thereupon revive I. The first of these is a sort of copy-hold which pays the full miri, or land-tax, and the second a freehold that pays only the oushur, a much lighter quit-rent supposed to represent a tithe of its pro-duce. The theory of Mohammedan law being that the fee-simple of the soil is in the sovereign, as personifying the State, the kharadjieh class is that portion of it whose usufruct only has been granted in consideration of a tribute, or rent, to private individuals, at first merely as crown tenants for life, but in course of time with the permitted right of sale and transmission to heirs. A condition of this tenure, however, is that fiveformerly three years’ failure to pay the land-tax forfeits the tenancy, and the estate ipso facto lapses to the Government, which in such cases usually sells it to another occupier at the price of the arrears. This category includes about 3,500, 000 of the whole 4,800,000 feddans of land now under cultivation in Egypt. The oushurieh class, on the other hand, consists of grants originally made in fee to the favourites of the sovereign, either tax-free or subject only to a low tithe-rent, averaging about one-third of the miri paid on the other category. To this also now belong the sub-classes of abadieh and aouassieh lands, the former of which were waste lands granted on condition of culture, free of taxes for six or eight years, after which they became chargeable with the usual imposts of their quality ; and the latter, life estates given chiefly to Government functionaries, also tax-free, which formerly lapsed on the death of the grantee, but of late years have been allowed to pass to his heirs. Under the operation of the new Moukabala law, both these have been assimilated to the older lands held under this tenure, and now pay the same rate of tithe. All the great Mamlouk Beys owned vast tracts of these aouassieh lands, and after the destruction of the caste in 1811 Mehemet Ali bestowed more than 200,000 feddans of their confiscated estates on his own retainers. Altogether, the oushur only is now paid on about 125,00 feddans, or rather more- than one-fourth of the whole cultivated area of the country.
The considerable aggregate of wakf property is held under a special tenure called el-kizkah, and is exempt from both land-tax and tithe. It consists of that portion of the land which, at the conquest, was assigned to the mosque for the support of religious worship, of schools, hospitals, and other charitable foundations, and which was subsequently increased by donations during life or bequests at death by pious Moslems, for a similar object. The conditions under which this class of property is held are these : As a house or farm falls in, it is sold, charged with a rent nearly equivalent to the oushur, and descends from the purchaser to his heirs, or may be sold by him during his lifetime ; but in default of heirs, or on the ultimate failure of these in any subsequent generation, the property again lapses to the wakf; and is sold for its benefit as before. These pious gifts were originally made in trust to members of the Ulema or other high religious functionaries, but already before Mehemet Ali’s time tho trusts had been so abused that the old reformer cancelled the whole and vested the property in official administrators ; but these proved no better than their predecessors, and have since been further superseded by a regular Ministry, by which what remains of it is now managed. The ruinous condition of most of the mosques in the capital and throughout the provinces shows to what an extent these endowments have suffered, and supplies a strong argument for their complete secularisation, as the only means of making the most of them in the interest both of Church and State. But of this reform there is no early prospect, and its effect therefore as regards either the mosque or the Treasury need not be discussed.
Both kharadj ieh and oushurick lands have been affected by the Moukabala law of 1871, in that, besides the extinction of half their respective taxes which will result from it in 1885, their owners will then receive what may be called parliamentary titles to their estates, con-firming absolutely the advantages which modern usage has won from the old Moslem law.
The rent-charges on the soil thus held vary according to the class to which the land belongs, and again widely ac-cording to the quality of the land itself. Thus, while the land-tax on kharadjieh holdings average about 22s. per feddan, it ranges from 26s. 5d. in the province of Ghizeh to 14s. 10d. in Esneh ; the difference being explained in part by the quality of the soil, but mainly by the greater facility of irrigation. Similarly the tithe charge en oushurieh lands, while averaging about 7s. per feddan, varies from 11s. 8d. in the mudirlik of Galioubieh to 2s. 10d. in that of Esneh. A further charge of about a dollar per feddan all round but varying in actual amount according as the land lies high or lowis made on both classes for water, to cover the cost of materials employed in making and maintaining the canals and dykes ; but as no portion of this extra assessment goes to the Treasury, neither it nor the further tax in labour, which, as will be presently mentioned, is levied for the same purpose by the district councils and engineers, can be fairly included in any estimate of rent-charge. Both are to be debited to irrigation, which, even where steam pumps are not employed, represents on an average more than half the whole cost of farming in Egypt. This distinction being observed, 22s. an acre for such la d as the average of that in the Delta and Upper Nile Valley cannot be considered high, still less excessive. Labour and the cost of living are cheap, below the lowest European standard, and if only a fixed rent were levied, the land would well bear, and its occupiers would willingly pay, a still heavier tax. For the bane of the situation hitherto has been that the miri, although nominally fixed, has meant just as much as the collecting saraffs could squeeze out of the smaller cultivators, the large ones being generally able to protect themselves. Hence most of the oppressive iniquity which has so much discredited Egyptian fiscal administration. One great advantage this has, however, for both the tax-payer and the Treasury as compared with the system of tax-farming and collection in kind which obtains in Turkey ; in Egypt neither the land-tax nor the tithe is farmed out, and both as a rule are paid in money, so that whatever may be the intermediate pilferings of saraffs, the Cairo Malieh mainly benefits by any excess of zeal in the collection, and the fellahs are, at least, never plundered cent. per cent., nor their harvest ruined by the designed delay of the oushurdjee. Only those who know how viciously the Turkish system works can estimate the advantage which the Egyptian peasant en-joys in this respect over his fellow-cultivator in Syr or Asia Minor. Unlike, too, the fluctuations which attend the annual sales of the crime in Stamboul, the Egyptian Minister of Finance can reckon beforehandbarring only the contingency of a bad. Nilewithin a few purses of what his land revenue for the year will produce. It is indeed nearly as steady a factor as the impôt fancier of France. Nor is this all ; for while the so-called tithes of Turkey offer no room for increase, the difference between the miri and oushur in Egypt constitutes a reserve of taxation potentially worth nearly 1, 000, 0001. a year. Even the heavier of these taxes may, therefore, be regarded as moderate, and the lighter be written down as an almost nominal quit-rent, which, remembering that vested rights here mean vested abuses, might be quite equitably trebled. When the Monkabala law shall, seven years hence, have reduced both land-tax and tithe by one-half, the Egyptian cultivator will in fact be relatively the most lightly taxed of his class in or out of Europe. If to this relief were added a settlement of the tax for a term of years, as has been done for our Indian ryots, the two measures together would form such a boon as agriculture in Egypt has not enjoyed since the Pharaohs.
Important, however, as are these anomalies of tenure and rent, they hardly affect Egyptian husbandry more than the third of its four chief incidentslabour. For the present area of cultivation this may be said to be fairly sufficient, since manufacturing industry absorbs so , few hands that fully nine-tenths of the whole working population are available for field labour. But if, as is quite feasible, more than 2,000,000 feddans were added by increased irrigation, native labour, as at present miseconomised, would certainly not meet the enlarged demand. The cause and the remedy, however, for such a contingent deficiency are alike obvious. Although legally abolished, the pernicious system of corvées still survives for the benefit of the Government on public works, of the Daïra estates, and of some other large do-mains ; so that as often as the mudir requires a levy for whatever purpose, every male member of a family or worker on a private estate may, according to the caprice or the interests of the sheikh-el-beled, be drafted off on a corvée for weeks or even months at a time, to the neglect and consequent loss of the crops thus deprived of their labour. The conscription, too, although much less onerous now than during the reign of Mehemet All, still forms a tax on the labour resources of the country out of all proportion to its military needs, and the reduction of which to a figure befitting these would be an immense boon to its agricultural industry. At the same time, many thousands of men and cattle are almost as wastefully employed in working a system of irrigation which was probably old before the Pyramids were built. The complete abolition therefore of these drains of forced labour, and the substitution of some cheap pumping machinery for the sakkia and the shadoof, would set free thew and sinew enough to till every acre of Egyptian soil that can be further reclaimed to the plough. As it is, the Arab fellahs furnish nearly the whole labour supply of the country, the Coptsexcept in some villages of Upper Egyptbeing almost entirely engaged in trade, in small handicrafts, and in the Government offices. Of these fellaheen, the lowest and much the most numerous class of actual labourers for hire, called mourabain, own no land themselves, but work either for daily pay or for a shareusually the fourthof the produce of a plot of ground belonging to some cultivator, on whose land they have lived from father to son for generations, and who pays the Government taxes. The wages of these people vary in different districts, but when paid in cash average about 6d, a day.
Next come the small proprietors who own from fifty to several hundred feddans, which they cultivate with the aid of the mourabain and of their own families, like the small tenant-farmers of Europe. The condition of this section of the population has much improved during the last twenty years, profiting as it has done from the enhanced price and increased production of nearly every staple crop of the country. The estates of the large owners, the wealthier Pashas and Beys, are similarly worked on this mixed system of wage-payment, part in money and part in produce, or by sub-letting small plots of ground at a fixed rental of so many days’ field-labour per feddan. In view of the fact that only extended irrigation is needed to greatly increase the area now under tillage, the idea of importing Coolies has been mooted, but the suggestion has not found favour with the Khedive, for the probable reason that he well knows there are fellahs enough for every agricultural want of the country, if only the heavy tax of corvées were put an end to, if the conscription were reduced by at least one-half, and if hand-labour in irrigation were replaced by cheap wind or steam driven machinery. Perforce these reforms will come, and there is therefore no reason to fear that the development of Egyptian husbandry will be ultimately checked for lack of hands.
But even more important than land tenure, rent, or labour is the vital condition of water-supply, on which not merely the profit but the very life of Egyptian husbandry depends. Of this the one sole source is the Nile, whose yearly flood, caught and circulated through a thousand channels, fertilises every tilled acre of Egyptian soil between the tropics and the Mediterranean. The annual rise of the river is almost tidal in its periodicity, commencing generally in the last days of June, and attaining its greatest height in the third or fourth week of September, when the gradual fall begins which continues till the summer solstice again comes round.* This annual phenomenon, it need hardly now be said, is attributable to the equatorial rains, occasional variations in the commencement and duration of which are followed by corresponding irregularities in the rise and fall of the great river ; but the dates mentioned are those about which, over a long average of years, these latter generally occur. As soon as the first signs of the commencing swell are noted at Khartoum, the news is flashed down to Cairo, and thence preparations are at once made to protect the embankments which now fence in the stream, wherever needed, along its whole course from Assouan to the sea.
How the inundation is tapped and its water drawn of! first into the great reservoirs of Upper Egypt and then into the various canals is explained elsewhere. Enough therefore to say here, that the rise varies from a minimum of about nineteen feet to a maximum of twenty-nine feet, the former height making a low or ” bad ” Nile, and the latter a dangerously high one, as most of the arable land on either side lies much below this level.* The rise of 1874 attained this perilous elevation, and but for the great energy of the authorities, personally directed on the spot by the Khedive, the banks below Cairo would have given way, and the whole of the Delta have been ruinously flooded. From twenty-three feet to twenty-four feet makes a “good” Nile, and this has been the average rise of seven out of the past ten years. As al-ready mentioned, this care of the river-banks and of the canals and dykes forms a special labour-tax, which is assessed by local councils partly chosen by the fellahs themselves, and partly nominated by the mudir of the province. To these are attached Government engineers, with whose aid estimates and plans of the work to be done are periodically prepared and sent for approval to the Minister of Finance, who either rejects or lays them before the Privy Council and the Khedive. If thus finally sanctioned, they are remitted to the mudir, and the village sheikhs are ordered to detail the necessary hands for the work, which is then done entirely by corvée labour. In the distribution of this forced work by the sheikh-elbeled there is occasionally much injustice, although the aggrieved peasant has the right of appeal to the primary communal medjlis, and thence again to the higher provincial court. But this privilege is of little practical value, and as the sheikh allots the burden so it is generally borne. Although the chief water-supply of the country is derived from the reservoirs and canals thus made and maintained, it is importantly supplemented by an auxiliary system which, as before mentioned, absorbs a large amount of human and other animal labour. This consists of three very primitive machines called the sakkia, or Persian water-wheel, the shadoof, and (less commonly used) the taboot. The first of these is composed of a vertical wheel which raises the water out of a well-of which there are vast numbers all over the country, fed by infiltration from the Nileinto a continuous chain of earthen pots fixed to its tire, like the buckets of a dredging machine ; of a smaller cog-wheel or pinion on the same axis, and of a large horizontal wheel, also cogged, which, driven by one or two oxen, according to the size of the machine, works into the pinion and sets the whole in motion. The great cattle-plague of 1864, which swept away more than half the oxen and buffaloes of Egypt, compelled the abandonment of many of these machines for want of animals to work them. The shadoof, or pole-and-bucketfamiliar to all voyagers on the Nile is a still ruder contrivance, consisting of a couple of posts or mud pillars about five feet high and three feet apart, supporting a cross beam, on the centre of which is poised a long pole having at its inland end a heavy counterpoising stone or ball of dried clay, and at the other, suspended to a rope or a couple of long palm sticks, a wicker basket lined with goat-skin, with which the water is swung up seven or eight feet into a trough to receive it. Three, four, five, or even six of these machines, in ascending series, are sometimes needed to raise the required water where the ground to be irrigated is high. The taboot is a variation of the sakkia chiefly used in the Delta, where it is necessary to raise the water only a few feet. All three of these machines are very ancient, but especially the shadoof, as is shown by its frequent appearance in. the tomb sculptures at Thebes and elsewhere.* One sakkia, it is estimated, does the work of five shadoofs, but this advantage is largely balanced by the greater original and working cost of the former machine. Besides these antique contrivances, nearly five hundred centrifugal pumps driven by portable steam engines are also at work throughout the country during low Nile, for the greater part on the Daïra and other large estates. The remainder are jobbed out by private owners, who supply the pump, fuel, and a man to work it at rates varying from 3l. to 6l. per feddan, according to the quantity of water required, and the level of the ground to which it has to be thrown. That such rates can be paid by any of the smaller cultivators says much for the profits of Egyptian farming ; but they are practically prohibitory for the majority, who there-fore keep to the hardly less costly water-wheel and pole-and-bucket. The only efficient substitute for these old-world contrivances would seem to be some simple form of wind-driven machine, costing nothing for fuel and next to nothing for superintending labour ; but against even this the conservatism of the fellah has hitherto been proof.
The cultivation carried on under these conditions varies considerably with the different districts, but everywhere, except on the Daïra farms and on some of those belonging to the richer Pashas, its methods are still as rude as when Joseph was moufettish. The ploughs, hoes, clod-crushing, threshing, winnowing, and other implements may, in fact, all be found in sculptured or painted counterpart on scores of tomb and temple walls anywhere between Beni-hassan and Edfou. Vainly have Reading and Ipswich tried to introduce into general use the improved tools of modern husbandry: the Khedive’s and some of the larger private estates have adopted their steam ploughs, patent reaping-machines, and other novelties, but the peasant farmer will have none of them at any price Messrs. Howard or Ransome have yet been able to quote. In fact, as has been well said, ” the earth is tickled with a hoe and laughs with a harvest,” for over three-fourths of the country the soil is merely scratched with the crooked stick which here, as generally through-out the East, does duty as a plough.
Of the produce raised under these implemental disadvantages, Cotton, though of less aggregate value than the cereals, ranks first in importance. Although microscopic experiments with mummy-cloths have proved that the byssos of Herodotus was flax and not cotton, as was long supposed, there is abundant evidence that the latter plant was grown and used by the ancient Egyptians. It had, however, passed out of cultivation long before the modern era, and when, in 1821, a Frenchman found a specimen of the long-staple kind growing wild in the garden of a Cairene Bey, -Mehemet All perceived the value of the discovery, and at once ordered as much of the seed as could be collected to be planted on one of his own farms. The result was a great success, and stimulated by the high price obtained for the new fibre in the European markets, the Viceroywho then held monopolies of this and nearly every other produce of the country promoted its extensive cultivation throughout Lower Egypt, the soil and climate of which were found to be admirably adapted to its growth. In 1838, Sea Island seed was introduced, but though the yield from it was at first excellent, the use of native (instead of freshly-imported foreign) seed in time affected both the quality and quantity of the crop ; and as, besides, the cultivation of this variety required much greater care and, labour than that of the native plant, its growth has been almost abandoned in favour of the latter, which has, on the whole, been found to pay better. This Sea Island growth is in commerce called ” Gallini,” and the old native plant ” Mako,” after the name of the Bey in whose garden it was discovered. The cultivation of the plantof which-ever varietydiffers slightly according as the ground sown is baliehi. e., watered solely by annual inundationor miscoweh, which is not thus fully irrigated, but requires to be artificially watered several times before and after the seed-sowing. In. Lower Egypt, where the land is fatter and stronger than above Cairo, one ploughing generally suffices before seed-time, but in the Upper Valley two at least are necessarydeep if the soil be light, but shallower where it is heavy. Small patches of ground are hoed where the cultivator cannot afford the cattle-power required for the plough. The ground being next levelled with the hoe or a rude kind of harrow, furrows are made about two feet apart, in which, at intervals of some three feet, holes are drilled three or four inches deep. Into each of these the sower drops half a dozen seeds, which he covers in with earth and waters, or not, and the operation is complete. The balieh lands are thus sown in March, and the miscoweh in April. Near the towns vegetables are generally planted between the furrows, to make the most of the ground : where this is not done, the plants are thinned and earthed up by ploughing between the ridges. The frequent artificial watering needed by the miscoweh lands is more than repaid by the great superiority of their crop, in both quantity and quality, over that of the balieh; for while the latter yields only from two to three cantars (of 98 Pas.), the miscoweh gives from four to six, and on the best soil even eight cantars per feddan. The pods begin to ripen in September, and the first picking takes place in October, the second in November or early in December, and the third in January or February, when the cotton-trees, as they are called, are usually pulled upthe plant being now an annual in Egypt, reproduced from fresh seedto make way for another crop, unless where the ground had been previously sown with beans or other pulse, in which case they are left to protect these latter from the occasional storms occurring in Lower Egypt during January and February. In some districts the stalks are not pulled up, but are cut close after the last gathering, and the ground is then sown with clover. In this way, be-sides this latter crop for feeding purposes, a second growth of cotton is obtained ; but the quantity is much less, and the staple shorter than in the first. The numerous ginning factories with which private enterprise has, within the past few years, everywhere superseded the old rude dulabs, next separate the seed from the cotton, which is then sorted and packed into bags, or hydraulically pressed into bales, and carried rapidly off to Alexandria by one or other of the railways that now reticulate the country from Assiout to the sea. Within the past two or three years, complaint has been made of a deterioration in the quality of Egyptian cotton, and the result of an inquiry into its causes has shown that it is attributable chiefly to the careless mixture of different seeds in the ginning mills, but in part also to the exhaustion of t land from the too frequent repetition of this crop and the want of recuperative nourishment by manure.* Guano is now used by many of the larger cultivators, but the smaller ones can neither afford thus to renew their phosphates nor to follow a wiser rotation of crops. Amongst them, therefore, cotton comes round every second year instead of every third, as on the larger estates, and in spite of the annual gift of virgin. soil from the Nile, the land becomes more and more impoverished. The action taken by the Government, however, to remedy both these causes of deterioration, has already effected a marked recovery in the quality of the staple, which may be expected to still further improve as intelligent care of the seed and its culture is continued. The latest available statistics, for 1875, return 871,847 feddans as having been under cotton crop in that year, producing 2,615,541 quintals (Ile lbs. each) of ginned staple, 1,954,555 ardebs (of 5 bushels) of seed, and 3,749,446 loads of cotton sucks, of a total value of 12, 267,4871. Of this 352,998 bales of about 51 quintals each were exported from Alexandria, the remainder, barring a small quantity shipped for the Hedjaz, being kept for home consumption. The produce of 1874 was more than 400,000 bales in excess of this yield, and that of last yearfrom an area of nearly 1,000,000 feddans, and favoured by an unusually fine season, and an abundant but not excessive Nile was much larger still. A measure of the increase in the growth of this staple during the present reign may be found in the fact that since the death of Said Pasha the quantity exported has augmented 257 per cent. as compared with the shipments of. the previous thirteen years. Nor is this at all the full limit to which its culture may be easily and profitably extended. Competent local opinion affirms that without trenching on the cultivation of cerealsof which cotton only interferes with dhoura, as suiting the same kind of ground1,000,000 bales might be grown annually, as only increased means of irrigation are needed to fertilise many thousand additional feddans of land admirably adapted to this crop, but which without water are now as sterile as the Sahara. As canals, unlike pioneer railways, are immediately reproductive, it is probable that for the next few years of compelled economy the chief outlay on public works will be in this direction; and, if so, before the Moukabala expires the further expansion of cotton culture alone may go far to recoup its loss to the Treasury.
Although cereal produce has not increased in the same high ratio as cotton, its augmentation within the past twenty, and still more the past forty years, has also been very great. Thus, while the eight or nine crops falling within this category only produced 3,585,000 ardebs in 1834,* their gross yield, exclusive of sugar-cane, amounted to 25,670,000 ardebs in 1875. Of this large total, Wheat, which in 1834 figured for only 950,000 ardebs, had two years ago developed to 6,662,632 ardebs, worthat 120 piastres eachE.£7,995,158. Of this, however, less than 400,000 ardebs were exported from Alexandria, chiefly to England and France ; home consumption and a small exportation to Arabia accounting for the remainder. The culture of this crop, like that of cotton, differs ac-ording to the districts in which it is grown. In Upper Egypt, where the heat is greater, its seed-time and harvest are both a month earlier than in the lower provinces. The subsidence of the inundation at the end of October when what is called the shitawee, or winter season, beginsis there immediately followed, while the soil is still miry, by a preparatory ploughing, and on the half-dried earth thus roughly turned up the seed is then sown broadcast without further labour. The harvesting takes place in April, when the stocks are cut, carried on ass or camel back to the village threshing-floor, and there beaten out, in the upper districts of the Saïd by a yoke of oxen driven round the heap, or in the Middle and Lower provinces by the nôreg, a rude wooden frame moving on thin iron wheels, which, drawn in a circle by a couple of oxen, separates the grain from the ear and at the same time cuts the straw for fodder. This last is then tossed into the air with two-pronged wooden forks, and the operation of winnowingas rudely simple as all that precedesis complete. In Lower Egypt two ploughings are given, one before and the other shortly after the sowing, which here takes place late in November. The second ploughing serves instead of a harrowing, and improves the crop. Where this last fails, through the action of worm or from any other cause, a third ploughing and second sowing are given, or the land is used for maize. In both sections of the country a feddan receives about 11 of an ardeb of seed, and yields from 4 to 7, or in the best land even 8 ardebs of grain, which is, it may be added, all bearded.
The next great staple crop of Egypt is that of Dhoura, or maize, which forms the chief food of the fellaheen. Of this there are two varietiesthe dhoura sefi, or summer maize, and the dhoura Nili, more properly millet, which is cultivated at high Nile : they are also respec-. tively called beladi (native) and shamy* (foreign), the latter being probably of Syrian origin. This last is a large yellowish grain, and the former much whiter and finer in its flour. The beladi is sown early in April, generally on ground that has given a crop of clover. After the land has been well weeded, and -the weeds burned and scattered over it, it receives one ploughing. The sowing is then done by drilling two or three pickles of the grain into holes about three inches deep, which are then covered in and the ground divided into small squares of four or five feet, enclosed by raised borders round which the water is carried in narrow gutters. As each square is sufficiently moistened, the water is run off round another till the irrigation of the whole is complete. The frequent watering required being altogether artificial, where the land is distant from the Nile, and so impracticable for sakkias or shadoofs, the precious fluid has to be carried in skins, in which case it is poured only over the holes containing the seed, with the result of an inferior yield. About three weeks after the sowing, a top-dressing of nitrous earth is given to the ground by some cultivators, to hasten the crop. The harvest takes place about the middle of July, when, after the ears have been cut off and laid aside to dry, the stalkseight or ten feet highare pulled up, and piled away to be used as fuel in lime-kilns, to cover in garden alleys, roof village huts, or with the addition of canal mud to build huts altogether. Much of this beladi variety is eaten roasted, and in this form is a very common article of diet. The dhoura shamy quickly follows during the early rising of the Nile, and, except that it is less careful, its culture closely resembles that of the spring crop. The produce of the two, from 1,884,414 feddans of land, amounted in 1875 to 10,502,715 ardebs, worth E.8,193,000, or with E.1325,107 realised for the straw, a gross total of E. Z8, 427, 952. Dhoura was already an old Egyptian staple in the days of Herodotus, and the method of its culture is still such as he witnessed nearly eighty generations ago.
In acreage and value of produce Beans ranked next, occupying 1,220,073 feddans and yielding 4,575,273 ardebs, which, at the current value of 100 piastres per ardeb, were worth E. C4, 575, 273. This crop is grown in nearly all parts of the country, and forms a common article of food for both man and beast. It is sown in October or early in November, after one ploughing, and the seed, which is thrown broadcast, is then covered in with a second. It is cut in March or the beginning of April, when the beans are shelled by the nôreg, and the bruised stalks, as in the case of wheat-straw, are reserved for fodder.
In the same year (1875) Barley was grown on 520,617 feddans, with a produce of 3,103,085 ardebs, worth E. £2, 394, 000. This also is a winter crop, sown in November and harvested early in May, and its cultivation is in the main similar to that of wheat. Soon after the subsidence of the inundation, the ground receives a light ploughing, and is then roughly levelled either with a rake or by cattle being driven over it, instead of harrowing. One ardeb of seed is sown to a feddan, with an ultimate yieldvarying according to the quality of the landof from 4 to 10 or even 12 ardebs of grain. Barley, like dhoura, is pulled up by the roots, and not cut like wheat.
Rice, which is chiefly grown in the lower Delta, is sown in April, and harvested in October or early in November. The ground to be occupied by this crop is that covered for several days with water, and after having been twice ploughed, is left for a while to dry. It is then again ploughed and submerged, and when thoroughly saturated the surface is smoothed and the seedhaving been previously soaked and allowed to germinateis thrown on broadcast. Round Damietta about one-tenth of a daribé of seed is given per feddan, but near Rosetta a sixth is used, the produce varying from 2 to 5 daribés, or from 4 to 6 under the most favourable circumstances. Three days after sowing, the ground is again flooded for some days and then drained, and this process is frequently repeated till the maturity of the crop, when the stalks are cut and the grain crushed out by the noreg, like wheat and barley. It is then cleaned from the husks by being passed twice through a mill, receiving during the second passage a slight mixture of salt. The total produce of this crop, the surplus of which is chiefly exported to Turkey, was 98,521 ardebs, valued at E.£738, 908.
These five crops complete what may be called the great cereal produce of the country, the minor oneswhich are rather leguminous herbs than cerealsbeing lentils, lupins, chick-peas, and a seed with a somewhat bitter taste called helbé, the flour of which is mixed with dhoura by the fellahs. The first of these is sown in the middle or end of November, and ripens in from 100 to 110 days, when the stocks are pulled up and shelled with the nàreg, like beans. The year before last it occupied 89,180 feddans, and produced 312,119 ardebs, worth E.£374,543. Lupins, which are sown and harvested about the same time as lentils, yielded, from 26,624 feddans, 13e,121 ardebs, officially valued £133,121. Chick-peas, also sown in November, ripen 90 or 100 days, and from 27,561 feddans produced 110,245 ardebs, worth E.£165,368. Be-sides these, many other garden-plants are grown in great abundance, of which only onions, garlic, cucumbers, lettuce, beet-root, water-melons, bâmias, and potatoes need be specially mentioned. These last, however, are not much grown, as the rich alluvial soil is not well adapted to them, and most of the inconsiderable consumption of the root is supplied by imports from Malta and Sicily.
Finally, it may be remarked that oats are not grown at all in Egypt.
Among the non-cereal crops, Clover (Arab. ben-seem) ranks next after cotton. In 1875 its total yield was valued at E. £3, 043, 465, of which 210,273 ardebs of seed, at 150 piastres each, produced E.£315,410; green-stuff on 520,322 feddans of pasture, at 300 piastres in the Delta and 250 piastres in Upper Egypt, E.£160,390 ; and 8,451,102 loads of dry fodder at 15 piastres each, E.£1,266, 665. Three and sometimes four crops of this valuable grass are grown within the year, separately or mixed with other cropsthe first sown early in October and ripening in a couple of months ; the second fifty or sixty days later; the third is left for seed ; and the fourth, which is raised by irrigation, produces no seed, but, like the first two, is eaten on the ground. All working animals in Egypt require a course of berseem-feeding every year, their food during the rest of the twelvemonth being dry, mostly beans and chopped straw. This pasturage season begins in November and lasts till March, during which the animals are grazed four times over the same field, which also receives as many artificial waterings. Clover is, in fact, to the Egyptian horse, buffalo, donkey, and cow what dhoura is to their human co-labourers the fellaheen.
The cultivation of Sugar-cane on an extended scale is a comparatively recent addition to the husbandry of Egypt, and promises, if developed in the ratio of the past dozen years, to become one of its chief sources of agricultural wealth. Forty. years ago, only 252 feddans of land were thus occupied ; in 1875 cane was grown on 74,855 feddans. Of this large area, 47,696 feddans be-longed to the Daira estates in Upper Egypt, the remainder being chiefly cultivated by private owners there and in the Delta for sale of the cane to be eaten fresh. The value of the whole crop for the year was estimated at E.£1,659,023, of which E.871,833 was produced by 927,471 quintals of sugar (at 90 piastres each) and 371,100 quintals (at 10 piastres) of treacle made in the Khedive’s sugar-factories, noticed elsewhere. The profits of this crop to his Highness of course depend primarily on the fluctuations of the sugar market, and to some extent on the accident of a good or bad Nile ; although these last affect the Dadra estates less than private land, since in practice they enjoy a first charge on the canals in their neighbourhood, and obtain, water, want who else may. The plantation takes place in March, when the cane is laid in furrows about four feet apart, and bearing north and south, so that the prevailing wind may enfilade the young plants. The crop ripens about Christmas, and when cut is at once conveyed to the mills, as any delay in crushing the cane sets up a chemical action that injures the juice, and so damages the sugar. The produce varies from 12 to 20 or even 25 cantars per feddan, according to the quality of the soil, and especially to the abundance of water and care in the cultivation ; but while on these estates there need, as a rule, be no want of water, the cultivation is notoriously inferior, and the average yield is therefore not much beyond 12 cantars of refined and 6 of brown sugar per feddan. Even this, however, would yield an excellent commercial return, if the original outlay on the factories had not been excessive, and if their working were more carefully supervised. But they have to contend against the dead-weight of an enormous first cost, and of a management which is, to say the least, much less economical than if the property were worked for private owners. In the hands of a European company, these great estates and factories together would almost certainly yield large profits on a moderate purchase-capital or rent ; as it is, it may be doubted if, with every advantage of privileged labour and water, they now pay 7 per cent. on the cost of the mills alone. Local opinion, nevertheless, is clear that, under sounder economical conditions, sugar-culture might be made one of the most prosperous industries of the country.
At a considerable remove from this great crop, Flax forms another important product of the Egyptian farmer. This very ancient plant is cultivated in two ways. In the Saïd, soon after the subsidence of the river in early November, the seed is thrown broadcast on the half-dry ground, which receives no labour whatever, before or after, till the plant is pulled in the following March ; in Middle and Lower Egypt, on the contrary, the land is first ploughed and roughly smoothed, it is next divided into small spaces on which the seed is cast, and is then watered. As soon as the plant has sprouted it receives, like the commoner crop of dhoura, a top-dressing of nitrous soil, and is again frequently watered till ripe for pulling. Its subsequent treatment is then nearly identical in both sections of the country, and is closely similar to the methods of preparationsteeping, drying, beetling, and scutchingstill followed in those parts of Ireland where handwork has not yet been superseded by machinery.
In 1875 this crop, grown on 23,467 feddans of land, produced 113,577 quintals of the fibre, valued (at 200 piastres per quintal) at E.£227,154, and 82,075 ardebs of linseed, worth E.£123,111. Hemp, a sister crop, which is grown chiefly for its oil and its intoxicating preparation called hasheesh, is sown and ripens at the same time as flax, to which its subsequent treatment is also in the main similar.
In money-value Tobacco ranks next among the minor crops remaining to be named. A considerable quantity of it is grown in Middle Egypt, but the quality is inferior, and it is used only for the consumption of the army and the fellaheen, Turkey and Syria supplying most of that smoked by the wealthier classes. It pays however a heavy excise duty, and its cultivation therefore is strictly watched by the Treasury. The produce of 1875 amounted to 27,171 quintals, valued (at 500 piastres each) at E.£135,855. Toombak, a species of Persian tobacco used in the narghileh, was also grown, to the extent of 4,400 quintals, valued at E.£22,000. Sesame, which is principally cultivated for its oil, produced 22,683 ardebs, worth E. £56,706. It is a summer crop, sown a week or ten days after the dhoura byood, and ripens in about three months and a half. Henna, valued for its dye, yielded 28,473 quintals, worth (at 200 piastres each) E.£56,946. Indigo, grown chiefly in Upper Egypt and the Fayoum, produced 4,425 quintals, valued at E. £6, 637. This plant gives three years’ crops from one sowing, in the first of which it yields four cuttings, and in the second and third years three each. Sown in April, the first crop ripens in seventy days, the second in forty, the third in thirty, and the fourth in twenty-five. The ground is then left without water throughout the winter, but is well irrigated in March, after which a first second-year’s crop is grown in forty days, a second in thirty, and a third also in. thirty, and the same in the following year, when after a similar interval of rest the seed must be renewed. Of the ten cuttings thus obtained the first two or three are the best. The subsequent extraction of the dye is very simple : the leaves of the plant are thrown into earthen vessels, which are buried in pits and filled with water, heat is then applied, and the liquid boiled till the indigo thickens, when it is pressed into shape and dried.
Safflower, or the bastard saffron (Arab. corium, or zâferân) the flowers of which are used for dyeing, and oil extracted from its seeds, is sown in the middle of November, and ripens in five months. The land receives no preparation before the sowing, but is raked once after-wards, and the grain, when well dried, is threshed out with a rude sort of flail. In 1875 an area of 1,871 feddans was sown with this crop, and the produce valued at E.£11,858.
Opium (Arab. aboonom, “father of sleep”), though not reported* in the official return from which the statements of quantity and value above mentioned are mainly taken, completes the tale of agricultural products that need be mentioned. It is sown in November in a strong soil in furrows, and in a couple of months attains a height of four feet, when the stalk is covered with long oval leaves, and the fruit, which is greenish, resembles a small orange. As it approaches maturity in April, incisions are made every morning in the fruit, from which a white liquor distils, which is collected in a vessel : this soon becomes black and thickish, and being then rolled into balls, covered with washed leaves of the plant, is ready for the market. The best and most abundant crop is grown on inundated ground : the seeds are crushed for lamp-oil, and the stalks used for fuel.
The Rose crop of the Fayoum, though no longer of its former importance, is still a feature in the agriculture of that province. The annual culture begins in May, when the soil, after having been twice ploughed, is divided into square patches, and slips of the flower are planted in holes two or three feet apart. These crops are then covered in, and the earth kept constantly moist, till the young shrubs begin to appear above ground, when the irrigation is reduced, and the trees gradually attain their average height of about two and a half feet. At the end of December, the shoots are cut at the surface of the ground, and irrigation is resumed for thirty or forty days, when the budding and the full blowing of the flower takes place. The young roses are then gathered early every morning, with the dew fresh upon them, and are placed in an alembic, where distillation ensues for six hours. The water is then drawn off, and being slightly yellowed with other water in which roses have been in-fused, is ready for sale. The consumption and consequent production of the article have greatly fallen off within late years, owing to the old custom of sprinkling guestsfor which it was chiefly usedhaving gone largely out of fashion. About 50,000 ounces is now said to be the quantity annually distilled, nearly the whole of which goes to Cairo and the Levant. No otto of roses is here manufactured, although, from the suitableness of its soil and climate for the growth of this flower on the largest scale, the Fayoum might, in respect of the more precious extract, compete favourably with the rose-farms of Adrianople.
The crops thus briefly catalogued have been noticed in the order of their importance : it may be convenient to re-group them in that of the three seasons into which the agricultural year in Egypt is divided. These are (1) the so-called winter (shitawee) season, which follows the subsidence of the inundation in the beginning of November, and during which the lands that have been directly watered by the flood are sown with wheat, barley, lentils, rice, beans, clover, lupins, flax, chick-peas, &c., as above detailed ; (2) the summer season (sèfi), beginning soon after the spring equinox, when the Nil e is at its lowest, during which cotton, millet (dhoura sefi), and indigo are grown ; and (3 the high Nile (demeereh) season, commencing soon after the summer solstice, when the chief crop is a second growth of millet or maize (dhoura shamy) making a third harvest in the year.
In addition to these various field-crops, nearly 1,000,000£. worth of esculent vegetables, fruit, and other garden-stuff was registered during the year, while more than 4,500,000 date-trees (which are the subject of special taxation) completed the vegetable produce of the twelvemonth, with a gross yield of E.£1,583,000, making, with all that pre-cedes, an agricultural total for the year of E.£45,382,332. With this the official return groups a further total of E. £6, 540, 783, for horses, donkeys, cows, buffaloes, camels, sheep, wool, fowl, eggs, butter, cheese, honey, salt, fish, quarry-stones, wood, and other quasi-farm produce, raising the entire earnings from the land and its belongings for the year to E. £51, 923,115a sum which, it might be fairly argued, goes far to justify the whole of the present direct taxation of the country. Nor is this at all the limit of its agricultural wealth. As has been previously mentioned, extended irrigation would not only largely augment the produce from the area already under crop, but would add to it above a million feddans of new soil, re-claimed from the desert, and requiring only moderate working capital and a better use of the existing labour-supply to yield as large return as any equal acreage now under cultivation. It is, assuredly, rather in her agriculture than in any possible manufacturing competition with Europe that the true elements of the national wealth and prosperity of Egypt are to be found.