Sisi bans growing ornamental plants in Egypt

Egypt’s Sisi has imposed a ban on growing ornamental plants under the pretext of saving water for fruitful crops, which has sparked wide-range anger on social networking sites.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued orders to the government to avoid plantation of ornamental plants in what he termed a bid to preserve water for growing useful crops.

While inaugurating some projects in Toshka on Sunday, 26 December 2021, Sisi said: “The land of the delta was low, with a lot of silt that has grown over thousands of years, and therefore has remained appropriate for cultivation. Now we are planting in a soil with different nature,” he said.

“God willing, there will be no drop of water that we can use that we will not use and no piece of land that we can plant that we won’t plant,” Sisi said, adding, “By the way, this is an order, Doctor Mostafa (the Prime Minister): There will be no more cultivation of ornamental plants, as long as the water drop we use is valid for fruitful plants, it goes for fruitful plants,” he said.

Sisi told top Egyptian officials of his decision to ban cultivation of ornamental plants during the inauguration of some agricultural projects in the Toshka area in the western Egyptian desert.

Sisi said that the agricultural wastewater that is used in cultivating the lands again goes through treatment process according to health standards, and is not mixed with other water.

Sisi stressed the need to make use of the largest amount of available water so as not to harm the environment.

Sisi’s statements came amid Egypt’s bitter dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Egypt fears that the dam will drastically reduce its share of water from the Nile.

Sisi’s new directives to the government raised rage among Egyptians on social media.

Award-winning novelist Alaa Al-Aswany, currently in self-exile outside the country, tweeted, saying:

“Sisi’s decision…reminds me of [Hosni] Mubarak’s decision to kill pigs [during the swine flu pandemic]…the dictator’s feeling of grandeur makes him make random calls in fields he knows nothing about, while specialists keep silent either out of fear or greed. Then [supporters] sing songs glorifying for the inspiring leader…democracy is the solution.”

A twitter user called Said al-Helow tweeted, in reply to Aswany, saying: “How come?! It’s a well-known fact that ornamental plants are a source of hard currency as there are several companies that export them abroad. Why to end a source of income for thousands of families because of a decision that harms rather achieves benefit. I think you (addressing Sisi) won’t tell us the reason behind this strange decision.”

Sisi insists on reviving the Toshka project, the most prominent national project during the era of the late President Hosni Mubarak, which had witnessed a catastrophic failure over 14 years, and wasted more than 7 billion Egyptian pounds (about 1.5 billion dollars) of state budget without any return, given that it is located in a very hot and remote area, about 239 kilometers from the Nile River.