Newsletter Volume 10 – July to September 2021

Dear Reader,

This is the tenth newsletter of our Organic Egypt project. This newsletter reviews the third quarter of 2021. In this newsletter we will share the training and workshops that were conducted with our partner associations. Also we will show the status of the pilot projects implemented at the partner associations to foster innovations in spreading organic agricultural methods in Egypt. Furthermore, we will present the awareness raising and educational campaigns that we implemented with our different partners. Finally, we will report about our project in Aswan where we support in converting farmers to organic cultivation.

Enjoy reading our latest activities 

Stay safe and healthy! 


EVALUATION OF ORGANIC EGYPT PROJECT AND PLANNING WORKSHOP FOR THE SECOND PHASE OF THREE YEARS

Evaluation mission of Organic Egypt Project

In the beginning of July, the activities and achievements of the 3 years phase of Organic Egypt were evaluated by the BMZ with the consultant Markus Arbenz, in participation of Martin Wahl (bfz gGmbH) and Christiana Hardt (sequa gGmbH). During the 8 days of the evaluation mission, meetings with many different stakeholders of the sector were conducted. The purpose of the meetings was to assess the project's impact, relevance as well as sustainability. The meetings were organized with private business companies (organic and conventional), representatives of organic governmental authorities, different agricultural associations and other related organic projects in Egypt funded from the BMZ (North African Organic Knowledge Hub and Agriculture Innovation Project) as well as representatives of certification bodies active in Egypt.

The evaluation mission included a final planning workshop with all partner associations. The outcomes and recommendations were shared with all associations involved. The overall outcome of the evaluation mission indicated that Organic Egypt works in the spirit of the project objective, under challenging conditions with a relatively small team, but with a high and positive impact as well as a high appreciation from the partner organisation sides. It was recommended to plan a second phase of Organic Egypt (2022 to 2024).

Planning Workshop – Organic Egypt Strategic Directions 2022 – 2024

A 3-day workshop was conducted with all partner associations of Organic Egypt to brainstorm how the strategic direction of Organic Egypt could look like and what is needed.

Together it was agreed that the new logframe of the second phase of the project will contain an indicator representing a sustainable organizational structure of Organic Egypt, as all partner associations wish to see Organic Egypt operating even after the project ends.

The workshop was facilitated by the consultants Dr. Hassan Aboubakr and Dr. Maximalian Boes. Together we identified 4 main factors that will serve as a red thread to determine the suitable activities, indicators and goals and to define and develop the second phase plan:

  1. – Socio-Economic: direct and fair relationship between farmer and processor, create marketing channels, improve value chain, support farmers to be independent, and apply an Economy of Love. 
  2. – Culture and Human Development: improve living standards, develop rural areas, creare demo-plots for extension, link researchers with farmers.
  3. – Media and Political Influence: digitalization, spread success stories, help partners to create visions, generate political influence.
  4. – Ecology and Health: Environmental literacy, awareness of healthy food and organic farming benefits for the environment.
  5. – With the mentioned factors in mind, an accurate plan can be defined and developed to ensure a satisfactory implementation for the second phase and beyond.

TRAININGS AND WORKSHOPS FOR PARTNER ASSOCIATIONS 

Training session on identification of plant diseases and diseases causal agents

With the support of Organic Egypt Project, three consecutive trainings on plant disease identification were conducted from July to September by Dr. Ahmed Bondok to our partner associations. 

Control measures depend on the right identification of diseases and of the causal agents. Therefore, diagnosis is one of the most important aspects of a plant pathologist's training. The trainer started with some basic definitions of plant pathology such as (virus, bacteria and fungi) and what the difference between them is; explaining the main important and common symptoms caused by plant disease (biotic and abiotic causal agents). He also discussed the possible pest and diseases for the new planting season of the associations’ members and created a biological control plan together with the engineers. Dr. Ahmed made a practical session in the field where he showed the participants how to best diagnose diseases and pests. The participants were very active and asked many different questions about issues they face in the field. Dr. Ahmed further advised that the diagnostician must have very good observation skills and needs to be a good detective. The training was very successful and the participants gained practical knowledge that they can use in the field when they consult their member farmers.

ToT in organic olive cultivation for DRWACA association

program for organic olive production to DRWACA staff and farm leaders continued. During the last quarter, 8 sessions have been conducted by the consultant Dr. Hamed Hosney. The sessions included theoretical and practical parts in different topics. In the last 5 sessions; the consultant focused on fertilization and olive pest management as the sessions were during flowering and fruiting time. Also at the same time, the participants faced real problems in their own olive orchards; the trees developed small olive fruits. The participants thought they have shotberries (small unviable olive fruits which won’t grow), however, the real cause of the small olive fruits was a wrong fertilization program. During the sessions the consultant illustrate the problem and the differences between small fruits that can grow and shotberries, how to fertilize correctly and organically, by the harvest time the participants were able to see the differences and how the fruits really grew. 

In addition, pest management sessions were conducted, where the participants applied pheromone traps and trichogramma cards in the field which were provided by the project. Also, the participants learned how to make natural traps at home with simple and cheap materials. At the end, sessions on pruning were delivered to prepare the fields for the new season and to illustrate all cultivation steps practically to the participants.

Training on “Agriculture as Business” for the partner associations

One of the goals of Organic Egypt project is building the capacity of the partner associations staff. Organic Egypt organized a 6-day training with the title “agriculture as business” that covers different topics including marketing, branding, pricing and accounting. The training was divided into 2 sessions of each 3 days and was oriented on the request of the partners associations’ to better support their members. During the first session, the trainer Dr. Khaled Abdu discussed specific topics including how to start a farming business, why and how to start exporting crops, marketing and pricing of the products for the local and international market besides other related topics. While in the second session, the trainer illustrated how to calculate crop budget and how to make a feasibility study for a farming project. Also, proposal writing and how to get funds for projects (e.g., NGO, competitions, funding projects) was discussed during the second session. Each illustrated point was combined with a practical activity. Although the participants of the partner associations had different backgrounds, they all interacted very actively in the sessions and raised many questions trying to cover all the struggles they are facing in their work with the members. Moreover, they exchanged experiences over the period of the training and its activities.

Training on “Organic Jojoba Production” for IDAM

IDAM has an association farm (25 feddan – around 10 hectare) cultivated with different fruit and vegetables crops. They want to use the farm as a demo plot for their members and increase their cultivation of different crops. In general, Jojoba suits the agricultural conditions in Minya in terms of sandy soil and content of water salinity. Thus, IDAM asked for a jojoba cultivation training. The consultant Dr. Hamed Hosney prepared a 2-day training for 4 trainees from IDAM. The training discuss all issues related to jojoba cultivation ranging from the history of jojoba to the cultivation steps as well as the economical part like price and market of the jojoba.

The trainer divided the training into one theoretical day and one practical day on a farm of an EBDA member; to show the participant how the jojoba is cultivated and what needs to be considered while creating a jojoba orchard (tree planting distances, the number of trees in one feddan, how many male and female trees, and the most appropriate way to distribute them in the feddan, methods of collecting seeds and their relationship to planting distances). The trainees raised many questions especially regarding the economical part of jojoba and its market and also how to get the best jojoba seedlings with good genetic traits.

NEW INNOVATIVE SERVICES OF OUR PARTNER ASSOCIATIONS

Predators Laboratory for EBDA farmers – from Lab to Field

In June 2021, the third release of aphid lion predator (80 packs) for the 10 feddans of lemon and orange trees at Adlia farm, one of EBDAs farms located in Sharqia, had been done. Followed by the fourth release in July 2021. Also 3 feddan of vegetables (green beans and summer squash) had the fourth and fifth release (36 packs) of aphid lion predator in July and August 2021. 6 packs/feddan have been released for each vegetable crop and repeated every 3 weeks. At the beginning of August, in addition to the mentioned crops, the first release for 10 feddan of grapes had been done. The release was at a rate of 6 packs/feddan. It is planned to continue producing the predator for the mentioned farms (approximately 158 packs of aphid lion predator every month for EBDAs farms in Sharqia, during summer season cultivation. For the summer season production, the sales (158 packes x 50 pounds= 7900 EPG) only cover a very small amount of the expense (total expenses per month are approximately 20000 LE). Generally it is planned to increase the marketing of the lab to attract new farmers, but also market the products more among the farmers of the partner associations and the existing network. It is expected that the laboratory will cover its expenses by Summer next year.

Biofertilizers laboratory for IDAM farmers

The Biofertilizer Laboratory with all the equipment was handed over by the company that was responsible for the installation in September 2021. The consultant Dr. Abdallah Koryem supervised the handover and identified the needs for production, like the lab chemicals, glass bottles, containers and packages. The production will be delayed until October though, as the 1000 litre fermenter needs higher voltages to work correctly, which the laboratory doesn't have yet. IDAM is working to solve this problem by mid October.

A second training was conducted in August for the 6 selected engineers. They learned how to use the new equipment and how the production steps are. After this second and final training, interviews have been done with the them to choose who will best fit in the laboratory work. Two engineers were hired for lab production and 2 were hired for the marketing positions. Those engineers are chosen based on their previous experience and their significant interaction during the training.

Pilot project Fayoumi chicken for IDAM association

In the framework of establishing a new service for IDAMs members – rearing and distributing the very robust fayoumi breed chicken in Minia – several training and supervisory visits have been conducted in the last months. The responsible consultant Dr. Adel Abd Elsalam gave training sessions in different topics including stages of poultry production, Good Practice (GP) for the family poultry production system, supplementary feed, cultural practices in the management of poultry as well as record-keeping and marketing tips. 

In total, 2000 chicks were distributed to the female members of IDAM and a weekly vet-visits to the farmers by a trained IDAM employee was conducted. 

A very small number of chicks (19) had died due to physical accidents and a very small number as well (24) became diseased with respiratory system and gastrointestinal disease and got healed with very simple and cheap remedies like chamomile and garlic tea.

Dr. Adel Abd Elsalam is pleased with the outcomes of the pilot project and is is recommending a second phase project that includes large scale production using incubators, and organic feed production on the local level in Minia in the 4 villages.

Earth Partners Project

The Earth Partners is the evolution of the Participatory Guarantee System project that was started in August 2020, and is concerned with establishing an alternative standard and guarantee system for small scale farmers in Egypt. In the framework of this pilot project, that involves all partner associations of Organic Egypt, some developments had taken place in the last months: the purpose, approach and values were reviewed and finalized, as well as different processes and practices within the network. The application process for farmers, as well as requirements and criteria were developed. The farming standards were developed together with the inspection process for reviewing and guaranteeing the standards and developing the farm progress plan with farmers. 


During the final phase till October 2021, documents will be translated to Arabic and the first members will be included and farm inspection visits will be conducted to initiate the learning journey together for better food for more people! 

ORGANIC EGYPT IS PUBLISHING A NEW STUDY ON STAKEHOLDER MAPPING AND ANALYSIS OF THE ORGANIC SECTOR IN EGYPT

Organic Egypt published a recent study “Stakeholder Mapping and Analysis: Organic Agriculture Sector in Egypt 2021” on the website (https://organicegypt.org) in the knowledge bank section. The study covers topics related to the Egyptian organic sector on different levels. Starting with an introduction of the Egyptian organic sector; to the Egyptian organic crops, the economic impact (GPD, employment, export, rules and regulations (National and international) and certifying offices in Egypt. Followed by the obstacles and barriers of the organic sector in Egypt and most importantly, challenges which had been identified with qualitative and quantitative research methods. Throughout the study period of 6 months, many interviews and surveys with representatives of the Egyptian private sector, the organic governmental authorities and different agricultural associations had been done.

EDUCATIONAL AND AWARENESS RAISING CAMPAIGNS

EBDA awareness raising campaigns for Farmers

With the support of Organic Egypt, EBDA continues to implement awareness raising campaigns to spread awareness of organic agriculture all over Egypt.

In August, three different campaigns were implemented in Damietta, El Behira and Kafr El Sheikh where EBDA gained many new farmers and farms that signed up as members. 

During the 3 campaigns, an introduction about organic and biodynamic agriculture as well as how the conventional way has a negative affect on our health and environment was done. Also the topics about organic fertilization and organic pest control were discussed. These topics captured the attention of the attendees and they asked many questions. The session ended with an EBDA member farmer, who talked about the benefits and his experience in cultivating. The campaigns were very successful, EBDA gained 30 new farmers in Damietta, 35 new farmers in El Behira and 50 new farmers in Kafr El Sheikh, all committed to start their conversion towards organic cultivation.

Awareness raising on domestic small scale organic poultry in Fayoum

Indigenous poultry play an important role in the livelihoods of most rural families in rural villages in fayoum. Despite increased use of commercial breeds by large-scale producers, around three quarters of poultry in this region are indigenous breeds. Dr. Adel Abd Elsalam gave an awareness session for improved practices (organic) in rearing small scale indigenous poultry for 10 facilitators of the Developing Rural Women’s Agribusiness Capabilities Association (DRWACA). The objective of the session was to learn about all organic aspects of raising poultry for their meat and eggs. Then to develop a business plan which will show them if they can make money out of an organic poultry farming enterprise operation in their country or region under the present conditions. The participants were very interested in the topic and raised many questions e.g., how to create homemade natural feed, how to keep the poultry healthy without the interference of synthesized medications, and how to succeed as commercial poultry farming. Equipped with valuable information and answers, the facilitators can answer the question of DRWACA members in the villages and consult them properly.

Cotton Harvest Festival   

Egypt is famous for  its cotton varieties which are some of the best in the world; long and extra long staple cotton. At the end of September, the cotton harvest festival started in Kafr El Sheikh Governorate, where EBDAs contracted farmers are located. The Festival included farmers, processors, distributors, and companies working in the field of organic cotton.

The day started with traditional music which talking about cotton being the white gold of Egypt and creating joy and nostalgia. In general, around 40 farmers attended the celebration including old EBDA farmers and new ones who are interested to start cultivating organic and biodynamic cotton in upcoming seasons. Two students that have attended the Organic Egypt Ambassadors Program, where they conducted a session for the children of the farmers, teaching them the importance of organic agriculture and what soil microorganisms and beneficial insects are?

The kids loved the activities and asked for more!  At the end of the event, all the participants went to the field to pick the cotton and feel the contact with nature and happiness of the farmers in the field.  

Environmental Awareness Education for School Teachers

In cooperation between Organic Egypt, IDAM, and the sub-secretariat of the Catholic schools in Minia governorate, a workshop on agro-environmental awareness and climate change was conducted during September 2021. There are 168 Catholic schools in Egypt and 14 schools in the governorate of Minia at the primary and preparatory levels. The consultant Dr. Hassan Aboubakr worked with 20 teachers from the Catholic schools in Minia, for a 3-day intensive workshop to provide participants with practical educational tools and techniques that they can use during their teaching work with the students.

Farmers and Processors Market’s

Organic Egypt in cooperation with the Rdna food community continuously implementing monthly Farmers and Processors Markets in an open space at KMT house, Maadi in Cairo. 

The rdna Farmers and producers Market in July had the theme “BBQ”! Whether vegan, vegetarian, or meat lover! All had their space and attention. 15 vendors were selling their products at this market, that had around 250 people participating and visiting. Among the vendors were IDAM as well as EBDA members, they connected with other producers and farmers. Also the famous chef Mohamed Salah gave a talk on “How to BBQ”; with some amazing drumming circles.

The rdna Farmers and producers Market in September was themed with EGYPT’s FOOD HERITAGE! 12 vendors participated with tastings and sold their products to around 250 consumers over the course of the day. The program included speeches and live music, as well as a movie screening of heritage food with our partner Nawaya. 

Consumer – Farmers Excursions

Through these excursions, consumers get the chance to increase their understanding and awareness of what it really means to farm or produce food. The excursion in August was conducted to “VeryNile Organization” in Qursaya island in the Nile. VeryNile was created in 2018 as an initiative that breaks boundaries through its wide range of ideas, strong commitment to action, and the ability to bring together multi-sectoral volunteers and partners through participation for cleaning the Nile, raising awareness about the importance of reducing plastic consumption, and empowering local communities. 

The excursion started where participants went in boats to the island where the VeryNile organization is located, and went together with women of the island. First they made a tour through the island, after that, the participants engaged in a plastic upcycling workshop and  every participant left with their own, DIY, upcycled (mostly shopping) bag!

This excursion in September was conducted to Al Sorat Farm in Dahshour in the south east of Cairo. Al Sorat Farm is an educational and recreational center with rescued horses and dogs that live here. They breed goats and sheep, practice organic farming, offer horseback riding lessons and trail riding, and lessons in local cooking and cheese making. It is a place where people can perform observational studies on the social interactions of the goats or horses. Al Sorat also receives “WOOFers” from all over the world (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms). 


The group was taken on a farm tour around the farm, with Maryanne, the farm owner sharing her wide knowledge and experience in the field of regenerative farming and integrating animals into the farm organism. Participants enjoyed the organic crops as well as a tour on horse backs. Lunch was served from farm produce.

Rdna Salons

The Rdna salons are sharing circles about conscious living, where topics like regenerative cities, the food system, holistic health and much more are discussed. Rdna is inviting all consumers, suppliers and farmers each Tuesday to these salons. In July, the Rdna salon topics ranged from: “Bridging the Gap (between consumers & suppliers)” to “How to survive gatherings when you have food sensitivities! “ to “Charcuterie Story: Where is your Meat come from?”. The first session was about how consumers and producers are deeply connected and what it needs to decrease the existing gap.

The second session was done by Yasmine Nazmy, a food entrepreneur. She talked about how to balance social life and individual feeding needs. 

The session about “Where does your Meat come from?” went through an open discussion with the facilitation of Deli Craft founder, Mariane Kamel.

Around 5-10 people participated in each interactive session. The number of participants declined due to many people being out of Cairo during the summer season.

In August, the Rdna salons were about “The Nature of Business”. It was an interactive discussion about what businesses can learn from nature.

The participants explored processes that are innate in nature and can be applied in businesses. Inspired by Biomimicry, which looks at product design, the principles of Resilience, Life supporting, values and systems based, optimization and adaptation were explored.

This salon was facilitated by Rdna team and was used to bring the internal Rdna team together with the wider community and exchange ideas, approaches and experiences.

The September salons had the common theme of FOOD. The first session was about “A History of Egyptian Food”, where Dr. Mennat-Allah El Dorry took the audience on a walk through some trends in Egyptian food history. Dr. Mennat-Allah El Dorry is an archaeologist specialized in culinary archaeology and heritage, with a PhD in Egyptology. She was elected as a corresponding member in the German Archaeological Institute, her wide knowledge, hands-on field research and experience enriched the participants.

The second session was about “Our Food and Our Planet” with Dr. Hassan Abou Bakr, professor of Biological control at Cairo University and Founder of Zaytouna Organic Farm. He discussed how our food has a direct impact on our planet and how the current ways of producing food are affecting our planet negatively. He introduced the latest outcomes of the IPCC report, published in August 2021and shared his perspectives as a small scale organic food producer in Egypt’s changing climate and growing conditions. 

The third session was about “Stress Management through Smart Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyle”. Dr. Rida Ali, an academic as well as a pharmaceutical industry executive with over 40 years of experience shared with the participants how to apply smart nutrition and healthy lifestyle practices to mental health and wellbeing.

The fourth session had the title: “A Tour in El Obour Market”. Where Dr. Hamed Hosny explored some of the following questions with the participants:

  • How to choose naturally ripe fruits and vegetables?
  • How do you differentiate between fruits treated with any artificial ripening materials and untreated fruits?
  • How to choose fresh fruits with the right taste? 
  • How to preserve the fruits at home for the longest possible period while maintaining the quality of the fruits?

Dr. Hamed Hosny is a lecturer at the Faculty of Agriculture in Cairo University and Heliopolis University, and has almost 20 years of experience in the field of cultivation, production, marketing and export of fruits. He also worked for 10 years in the field of ripening and storing fruits and vegetables and post-harvest technology for fruits. 

Awareness raising Articles

Articles with specific monthly themes are published on the rdna Blog to raise awareness for complex topics and support consumers in building their knowledge and intuition in making the best food choices for themselves and the environment. The articles of the last months are talking about old Egyptian meat products and processing methods that are almost forgotten. Other articles are telling the story of Rdna and how it started.

ASWAN COOPERATION PROJECT BETWEEN EBDA AND PDF

In the collaboration framework between the Egyptian Biodynamic Association (EBDA) and the Professional Development Foundation (PDF), 33 farmers in 4 villages in Wadi El Nokra (Aswan) participated in the summer season of 2021 on a total area of 76 feddans (ca. 32 ha). The responsible consultant Dr. Saber Hendawy travels to Aswan every month to follow up on the cultivation and consult the farmers on organic agricultural practices. The collaboration project started in October 2020 in the winter season of 20/21 with 14 farmers on a total area of 17 feddans (ca. 7 ha). After a successful winter season, the number of farmers that joined organic cultivation doubled, while the number of hectares almost quintupled. During the visit in July, Dr. Saber Hendawy invited Eng. Hany Aziz (purchasing department of Spicy Kingdom Company) to introduce him to the farmers. EBDA is supporting the marketing of the raw materials of its members, and Spicy Kingdom Company showed their interest in the produced basil. Dr. Saber with Eng. Hany Aziz visited the farmers to assess the cultivation and the production quality. In general, all farmers were applying all the recommended practices from the consultant Dr. Saber. Eng.

Eng. Hany talked to the farmers about the quality of basil needed and explained the good agriculture practices of organic basil cultivation, harvesting, drying, plant processing and packing. He also explained the contracting and price system that farmers and companies will need to follow. It was a successful visit; the farmers were pleased with the price and system offered and Eng. Hany Aziz was satisfied with the basil quality and quantity.