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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

2S4                    THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM                 CHAP.
•
was supposed to be over, and the official tariffs, which had been from time to time imposed, without much success, to keep prices down, were again removed.   But all calculations were disastrously upset when within .three months there was another and quite unprecedented rise.    The following    figures    speak    for    themselves.     Between December 1,1919, and March 1, 1920, the price per ardeb of maize, which is the favourite foodstuff of the people, rose  from   213  piastres  to   Pt.450   (97$ piastres = £1) per ardeb ;   wheat from Pt.336 to PJ}.535 ;    barley from Pt.218 to  Pt.450;  beans  from  Pt.350 to Pt.650,   and lentils from Pt.356 to Pt.745.   Tibn, or chopped straw, the chief fodder for animals, which had been purchased a year ago at the tariff price of Pt.70 per quarter-ton load, rose   from   Pt.155   to   Pt.215.   In many parts of   the country prices soared locally to even greater heights, and the landless poor, who derived no benefit from the rise since they had no produce to sell, could not possibly buy sufficient food for themselves and their families out of their inadequately increased earnings, and in many cases the food was not there to be bought even if they had the money. Yet landlords were all the time clearing more land for cotton, and occasionally even pulling up for the purpose young crops of cereals in their haste to reap a golden harvest on the Alexandria cotton market.   In 1915 the Government had restricted by law the area under cotton, but removed the restriction in 1916, when it at once jumped from 1,186,004 feddans (or acres) in the preceding year to 1,635,512 feddans, and increased again slightly in 1917.   In 1918 it was again restricted and brought down to 1,315,572 feddans.   But the restriction was then once more taken off,  and the area under cotton for   1919 expanded to 1,573,662 feddans.   All through the last five years the area under foodstuffs of all kinds, except lentils, has been almost uninterruptedly shrinking, and in most cases the shrinkage has  been very  considerable;   for wheat, for instance, from 1,533,801 feddans in 1915 to 990,945 last year.o not know where to look for guidance, and                            ^