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Egypt is an intensive user of modern technologies to improve agricultural productivity in view of the natural resource base scarcity and population pressure. With this in mind, the very creation of the Ministry of Agriculture in the beginning of the 20th century was preceded by the establishment of technical divisions and the development of research capabilities. These endeavors culminated into the creation of the Agricultural Research Center (ARC) in the early 1970s. Over the past two decades, numerous achievements have been realized, including the development of new varieties, improved agronomic practices, livestock development, maintenance of the national herds and better food processing techniques. New crops and animal breeds have also been introduced and research has been dedicated to problem- solving, side by side with basic science. The overarching goal is to maximize the economic return per unit of land and water. Within the national agricultural development strategies, ARC assumes the following major functions: (i) Conducting applied and basic research to generate a continuous flow of technologies that help increase productivity and reduce production cost; (ii) Transfer of new technologies to the farming community through extension service; and monitoring their adoption by the end users; and (iii) Human capital development as a continual process.
The Center has so far implemented four 5-year plans and initiated the fifth 5-year plan (2002-2007) in July 2002. According to its Founding Law, ARC is required to develop its infrastructure, set its priorities, train its research personnel and support staff and upgrade its physical capabilities, with a view to achieve greater sustainability. Over the past two decades, ARC research personnel have increased from 1720 researchers in 1982 to 4300 researchers in 2001. New Central Laboratories and Institutes have been added to improve performance in the on-going plan which is built on the following pivotal themes: (i) Sustainable development of research and extension capabilities; (ii) Upgrading technology transfer channels; and (iii) Utilizing, to the maximum level possible, the findings of science and technology developed abroad.
The fifth 5-year plan incorporates 14 research programs, being implemented by 16 Institutes, 13 Central Labs, 10 regional stations, 36 specific research stations, 21 research administrations throughout Egypt and 4 research, extension and training centers of excellence. This effort is further supported by other partner agencies in MALR, MWRI, universities and sister research centers. Multidisciplinarity is the major feature of the current plan and key to its success. Clearer definition of research topics, geared to solving specific problems, is also another feature, complemented by the set objectives and the physical, human and financial resources earmarked to attain them.
In view of the foregoing, ARC is now in a position to better serve the agricultural development efforts over the coming five years. Five years have already elapsed since the publication of the first ARC's Arabic and English Directory in 1998. It was deemed necessary to update this document, considering the new ARC roles and mission.