Newsletter Volume 6 – June to September 2020

Dear Reader,

This is our six newsletter of the Organic Egypt project. This newsletter reviews the third quarter of 2020. As we have been through a lot of changes, the world is now more and more adapting to the COVID situation.

Our effort to support and strengthen the organic agriculture sector in egypt hasn’t changed and we are still working eagerly to support our partner associations and their members.

We hope that all of you are safe and healthy! 

Enjoy reading our latest activities.

NEW PARTNER ASSOCIATION OF ORGANIC EGYPT PROJECT

We signed the Partnership Agreement with “Developing Rural Women’s Agribusiness Capabilities

Association” (DRWACA) on the 19th of July 2020. This makes DRWACA the 4th partner association of Organic Egypt project.

A planning workshop was held for DRWACA where we met the founding members and discussed the main fields of cooperation and where DRWACA needs organic Egypt’s support.

DRWACA has 400 members in 5 villages, this is where we will start working together.

We agreed on two workshops that need to take place in the coming weeks to have a better picture on where Organic Egypt support is needed.

  • Workshop on the governance structure of DRWACA and a formulation for their strategy 
  •  Situation Analysis with a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) approach to get to know the needs in the 5 villages. The outcome of this study will be a clear database with the members, how much feddan and what they cultivate, as well as what their needs are.

TRAININGS AND WORKSHOPS FOR PARTNER ASSOCIATIONS 

Strategic planning workshop for DRWACA

The consultant Dr. Ahmed Owies, conducted a Strategic planning workshop on three consecutive days in August for the new partner association “Developing Rural Women’s Agribusiness Capabilities Association” (DRWACA). By the end of the workshop, the vision, mission and values for DRWACA were revised, SWOT analysis was done and an action plan for the next year was settled.

Sustainable Poultry Farming for IDAM

Poultry farming is one of the main aspects in organic agriculture as any poultry farm is usually part of a farming system.
Organic Egypt decided to search for a consultant specialized in poultry farming as this consultancy is needed for the partner associations. Dr Adel Abdel Salam, made a training on “Sustainable Poultry Farming” for more than 30 participants from IDAM agriculture engineers as well as farm leaders (mostly women) from the villages. The participants had a good knowledge about poultry husbandry but they were curious to get more knowledge about sustainable poultry farming and to find marketing possibilities in order to access new markets. Dr. Adel Abdel Salam, as well, will provide the other three associations with tailored training according  to their needs in coming months.

EBDA workshop on the new Economy of Love Standard

This workshop was organized to inform the engineers of the partner associations about the newly established standard. The first part 

of the workshop was to introduce the EoL standard. The second part was presented by Dr. Ramy head of the COAE who presented the EoL criteria in depth. The afternoon started with a small introduction of all well established standards that exist on the organic and fair trade market. This was done to prepare for a game in order to better get to know the standards differences. Different groups were formed, with each group holding a big paper of the essential criteria of each certification. The groups were supposed to playfully discuss which card, and therefore which certification is the most advanced, and why. The EoL paper was without content, so that the participants needed to fill it with content of what they got out of the workshop beforehand. This game was very helpful for the participants to get a feeling of the different standards and their backgrounds.

Learning video on composting

EBDA with the support of Organic Egypt project and Heliopolis University did the first learning video on composting for small scale farmers. The video is published on our project website www./organicegypt.org in the Knowledge Bank section.

NEW INNOVATIVE SERVICES OF OUR PARTNER ASSOCIATIONS

Organic Egypt supports the piloting of new innovative services that the partner associations offer to their farmers. One of the major problems the farmers face is finding organic agricultural inputs in good quality. Most of the available organic pesticides, fungicides are either imported and very expensive or expired or locally produced but in very bad quality. Same for organic fertilizers on the egyptian market. The associations are therefore working to supply their farmers with good. quality organic agricultural inputs like predators, biofertilizers. Organic Egypt is supporting the piloting of these new innovative services. Further, new, innovative postharvest techniques are supported by the project. The question of certification and to comply with the guidelines is a big question for all the farmers registered in our partner associations. For many, specially small scale farmers, the certification is too expensive. Therefore, new approaches are being developed and implemented within our partner associations to make certification accessible. Some of the pilot projects that are tested and implemented are listed below:

Biofertilizers laboratory for IDAM farmers

Biofertilizers are microbial inoculants that have cells of microorganisms, they are applied to plants or soil as fertilizers to increase soil fertility and hence, crop yield and crop quality.  In cooperation with the Heliopolis University, IDAM is planning to establish a Biofertilizer Laboratory and produce different types of biofertilizers for their farmers. Dr. Abdallah Korayem, from Heliopolis University who is specialized in biofertilization, microbiological analysis of soil and water visited IDAM in Minya with the project team in July and August in order to discuss with IDAM the specifications of the place and the equipment needed and how the whole production process should go. During his visit he also met farmers and explained how biofertilizers work and how they are applied and agreed with them to conduct trials in the winter season 20/21.

 

Dryer for postharvest treatment of crops for FAODA farmers

FAODA had a dryer with an uneven distribution of air for the drying process. The dryer had never worked and needed to be adjusted. In cooperation with HU, faculty of engineering, Organic Egypt financed the adjustment of this dryer. 

Professor Dr. Heba Mosalem from the faculty of engineering was responsible for leading the consultancy process to provide us with all technical advice and needed support. The problem was a technical matter that was identified and solved. After the dryer was fixed, three trails were done on peppermint, calendula and tomato to ensure the proper distribution of air and the quality of the end product. The last trial had been conducted in August 2020 with good results.

Now we are connecting FAODA with companies that need dried vegetables or fruits to start running the dryer.

Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) for DRWACA farmers

“Participatory Guarantee Systems” (PGS) is an innovative approach for small scale farmers, PGS, as defined by IFOAM are “quality assurance initiatives that are locally relevant, 

emphasize the participation of stakeholders, including producers and consumers and operate outside the frame of third party certification”. This is especially relevant for small scale farmers that can’t afford certification fees.

DRWACA works only with small scale female farmers that have big challenges in marketing their produce. DRWACA provides the required link to these farmers, while the other part of the solution is represented by Rdna. Rdna provides a marketplace for  suppliers who take responsibility for honest, clean, and affordable food production to sell their production for consumers who do their grocery shopping in a responsible manner. The store is located in Maadi, Cairo, but delivers daily all over Cairo and is in the process of opening its next branch.

DRWACA and rdna together want to enable small scale suppliers as well as aware consumers to create their own standards for clean and healthy crops and food. This project will be the first PGS pilot project in Egypt and has the potential to offer a great solution to Egypt, which is dominated by small scale farmers with an average farm size of 2.5 feddan.

NETWORKING ACTIVITIES OF ORGANIC EGYPT PROJECT

Professional Development Foundation (PDF)

Mid of September 2020, PDF approached Organic Egypt to get involved in the agriculture sector with their members in Aswan and to discuss possible cooperation. PDF is an NGO that is working in the development sector in Egypt for 22 years. Since 2018 they have been involved in a program of the Egyptian Government for reducing poverty in Aswan. Since that time, the association has been actively working in 5 villages in Aswan. 3 of them are in Wadi El Nokra which are purely agricultural villages. Soon PDF realized that their usual development approach (training, workshops, professional youth programs etc.) will not be enough to fight the poverty in these villages, as the agricultural challenges they are facing are the main cause for their poverty. The challenges are amongst other low yields, no accessibility to good quality seeds and agricultural inputs. As PDF don’t have any previous experience in agricultural consultancy, they approached Organic Egypt for support. The total cultivation area of these 3 villages is around 10000 Feddan (around 4200 ha). The villages are far from the city of Aswan, located in the desert where contamination is unlikely. After first meetings and discussion with the partner association EBDA, which has previous experience in these villages and experimented before.

with different cash crops, we are planning to visit the villages in the coming month and discuss trials of different crops to be conducted in the winter session 20/21 with the farmers. The current organic market suffers from a shortage in good quality and enough certified crops. This is affecting the local and international demand. The goal is to support these farmers in certifying their lands and offer consultancy in cultivating organic crops. Additionally, Organic Egypt will engage in connecting the farms to local and national companies to ensure a sustainable development through contractual farming.