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KAFR EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — In Kafr el-Sheikh, rice farmers once looked forward to harvest time, but work has dried up in the large Nile Delta town since water shortages prompted heavy restrictions on production.

Under pressure from upstream countries to use its share of the river's waters more sparingly, Egypt's government has decided to severely restrict the farming of this water-intensive crop.

But the move threatens the price and supply of a commodity that feeds many of the country's burgeoning poor, as well as being a lucrative Egyptian export and a key employer in the agricultural sector.

"Right now we should be in the middle of our work season, which we wait for all year. Normally after the rice harvest we work day and night to meet demand," said Mohammed, a local farmer.

"But since they banned us from growing rice in several regions to save water, we have no work."

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Courtesy: AFP

Date:  23rd November 2010