Newsletter Volume 17 – October 2022

Dear Reader, 

This is the seventeenth newsletter of Organic Egypt project. It reviews our activities in October 2022 and illustrates all interventions conducted with our partners IDAM and Demeter Egypt (EBDA).

We hope you are all doing well and hope you enjoy the reading!

Stay safe and healthy!

TRAININGS AND WORKSHOPS FOR PARTNER ASSOCIATIONS

World Goetheanum Forum

The World Goetheanum Forum is hosted annually by the World Goetheanum Association (WGA) in Dornach, Switzerland. The WGA is a worldwide network for the future development of humanity and the earth. Here, partners from all fields of life connect; agriculture, education, medicine, the arts, commerce and banking. Justus Harm from the Egyptian Biodynamic Association (EBDA) was invited to make a workshop and share the status of the holistic sustainability standard: Economy of Love (EoL). The idea was to further develop the standard in participation with experts from many different fields. Outcomes of the workshop was amongst others, that EBDA needs to look into global reporting, to be equivalent to other global standards and can partner with standards having a similar approach. These corporations could offer the possibility to avoid double inspections and auditing for licensees. Another outcome was the need for a feasibility study for the European market and that the Forum can be used to connect to stakeholders worldwide wanting to apply EoL values. 

African Biodynamic Trainers’ Workshop 

The Agricultural Section at the Goetheanum and the Biodynamic Federation-Demeter International initiated the African Biodynamic Trainers’ Workshop. 30 experienced  biodynamic trainers from Egypt, Israel, Kenia,Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Uganda participated in this workshop. The goal of this workshop was to pave the way for the biodynamic trainers to exchange knowledge to raise training capacities and skills in biodynamic agriculture technologies throughout africa. Angela Hofmann, representative of EBDA participated in the workshop to elevate her trainers skills. It was a very successful and fruitful exchange between the trainer group, they agreed to conduct the next African Biodynamic trainer workshop in June next year.

Training on Organic Feed Production

In the Light of the cooperation between Organic Egypt and IDAM and the newly established feeding unit for IDAM members, a training on feed production has been conducted where the responsible IDAM facilitators were introduced to the components of the feed manufacturing line and what must be taken into account when dealing with equipment as well as the importance of conducting periodic maintenance. Moreover, they learned about the raw materials and how to ensure the quality of the ingredients of the feed mixes. The training included a practical part, where they produced 3 tons of poultry feed.

Training on the Concepts of Development and the Theory of Change

Organic Egypt project attended a workshop held by the partner association IDAM in Minia on the “Concepts of Development and the Theory of Change”. During the 3 day workshop the different development theories were discussed, starting from the classic theories that focus on economic development only, passing through the modern development theories that focus on human and social growth, to the theories of comprehensive development that integrate the economic with the social and human. On the second day, Paulo Freire's method of identifying the real needs and problems of society was discussed.


His method depends on the researcher's involvement in society, and observing the causes of people's happiness, sadness and anxiety, through observation and inspection, and not by asking direct questions. He states that direct questions to the community concerning their needs often gives false results, somewhat far from the truth. On the third day, the focus was on the theory of change, the trainee groups presented their projects that involved a practical part. The trainees were divided into groups and were sent to the nearby hospital, market, school, cafe, and post office to observe the needs of the community and choose an approach that develops the association and society.

Workshop on Agricultural Entrepreneurship

Organic Egypt team was invited by GEBAL, a company concerned with advancing sustainable agriculture and livelihoods across Egypt and the MENA region together with GIZ, to attend a workshop on “Agricultural Entrepreneurship ''. The workshop forms part of the project “Water-Energy-Food-Nexus Farming: Upscaling Solutions for Small and Medium-Scale Farms” funded by the EU and the German government and implemented by the GIZ. The one day workshop was held in El Heiz, south of Wahat Bahariya, which is one of the strategic locations of the project. The workshop was designed to build the capacity of the participants in the field of agricultural entrepreneurship. We talked about how to create and manage a business model for an agricultural enterprise, specifically the WEF-Nexus farming. The example used by the trainer was a business plan for a greenhouse. Around 20 farmers from El Heiz and from Oasis Farafra, Agricultural teachers from the agricultural school in Wahat Bahariya and Wahat Farafra attended the workshop. For Organic Egypt team it was a great opportunity to network and connect and get to know the challenges and questions the farmers in the western desert have.

Practical Inspection Training

In the context of supporting national certification bodies, Organic Egypt organized a field training targeting mainly organic inspectors from national certification bodies with different levels of experience. Moreover, 3 academic staff from Heliopolis University and Ain Shams who are teaching organic certification attended the training. Bernd Köhler from Ceres GmbH, was the expert who led the training. El Zahwyeen farm in Qalyubia governorate was chosen to be inspected for the training which is a member farm of the Egyptian Biodynamic Association (EBDA). The expert asked one of the participants to lead the “rehearsal” inspection. Afterwards, he commented on the inspection steps and a discussion round with all participants was made. Also the difference between the National Organic Program (NOP) and EU organic law was discussed. It was a very interactive and successful practical training.

Farmers and Processors Market

Organic Egypt in cooperation with the RDNA, implements Farmers and Processors Markets in an open space at KMT house, Maadi in Cairo. The theme for this market was Halloween, and hence there were many activities such as pumpkin carving and face painting for kids. There were 12 vendors present from the RDNA partners network, providing tastings and products to buy for consumers. Around 400 visitors came to the market. All participants - especially families - provided extremely positive feedback and are waiting for the next one in December!

NEW INNOVATIVE SERVICES OF OUR PARTNER ASSOCIATIONS

Production and expansion of Native Chicken Breeds for IDAM members

IDAM with the support of Organic Egypt, bought 2000 pure fayoumi chicks and distributed them to the 21 chosen female farmers in the 4 communities. They are well trained female farmers that will only raise the fayoumi breed to ensure its purity. The eggs will then be hatched in the incubators and distributed amongst all IDAM members. Monthly visits will be conducted from IDAM staff to follow up on the female breeders.

Further, a training was conducted with 10 facilitators on how to run the feeding unit and how to produce clean feed for poultry. They produced 3 tons of clean feed that they are distributing in the villages.

Demo-plots at IDAM Agricultural Learning Center

The Agricultural Learning Center (ALC) aims to showcase sustainable/organic agricultural cultivation methods, amongst others. With the support of Organic Egypt, IDAM team designed 2 demo plots of ½ feddan anise and ½ feddan fennel that will be cultivated this winter season 22/23.

The first farm field school with around 30 IDAM members was conducted in October discussing how to prepare the land for the cultivation of anise and fennel. The consultant explained the perfect planting time for each crop, as well as the proper irrigation timing. He also talked about organic fertilization and the importance of compost. Overall, the farmers asked many questions and were very interactive. Next session will be held at the beginning of December, covering the topics of weed control and fertilization in organic farming. 

EDUCATIONAL AND AWARENESS RAISING CAMPAIGNS

Recipe Videos for consumer awareness

In cooperation with RDNA and Organic Egypt's to raise awareness, RDNA is producing and sharing recipe videos which are healthy, engaging and easy to do at home. Raising awareness for locally produced (and especially organic) products is crucial for small scale farmers and RDNA partners, as they usually don't have the means to show their products. The recipe videos are a short, fun, visual way to communicate with the consumers. This October, 4 recipe videos were developed, Tiger nut cakes, Alexandrian gourd, Romneya - Pomegranate meatballs and Roz Ma3amar. The videos will be published in chronological order from pharaonic to modern times. The recipe videos include products from IDAM and EBDA partner farms, as well as other organic and clean products. They can be watched on the social media platforms of RDNA and Organic Egypt.

Consumer Excursions

The excursions supported by RDNA and Organic Egypt are designed to bring consumers closer to farmers and producers. On Saturday the 22nd of October, an excursion was organized to Wiiwii's farm in Cairo Alexandria desert road. The owner of Wiiwii’s farm promotes it for ecotourism hence, many school trips are done there. The day was fun, full of activities such as planting seeds, playing with livestock, collecting knowledge on the planted trees. With a vegetarian farm lunch and a relaxing time in nature with great weather. 

Professional Seminar of Organic Food Industry

Over three days in three different governorates, Organic Egypt co-organized a series of professional seminars on organic food industry with the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, and Bildungswerk der Bayerischen Wirtschaft, bbw International. The seminars were provided by 4 representatives of Bavarian companies; Berned Köhler from Ceres GmbH who shared his 30 years of experience in obtaining organic certification. Dr. Tarek Sassy, the owner of sasa med company for black seeds production for medicinal purposes. Christoph Fischer, the owner of EM chiemgau company, which has been developing products based on active microorganisms for nearly 20 years. And Dr. Andreas Kappl, owner of Nature Health Concept company, shared his 20 years of experience in the field of medicinal herbs and nutritional supplement production. Around 200 interested people attended the seminars in the 3 governorates (Sharkia, Cairo, and Minia). Business contacts were exchanged and the feedback was very positive.

NETWORKING ACTIVITIES OF ORGANIC EGYPT PROJECT

Financing Roundtable on Water-Energy-Food-Nexus Farming

GEBAL Company invited Organic Egypt to participate in a roundtable to create a dialogue between actors who are interested in the issues of environment, renewable agriculture and sustainable development. This session was attended by representatives from government agencies, the private sector and civil society organizations. The opening of this roundtable emphasized that the main problem is not the lack of technical solutions, but the lack of a real and serious collaboration to implement those solutions. GEBAL illustrated the outcome of their work in the four project locations Dandara and Esna in Upper Egypt, El Heiz Oasis in the Western Desert,and Cairo, where they are exploring the conditions that enable Egyptian farmers to replicate successful models of sustainable, nexus farming and climate-smart agriculture. The attendees discussed solutions and stressed the need for an interdisciplinary body working to link between governmental entities as well as the government sector and the private sector to activate solutions in the best possible way.

Regenerative Future for Wahat Bahariya

An Event, under the theme "Regenerative future for Wahat Bahariya '' was held in Wahat Sekem farm to bring together local stakeholders with Wahat residents to create a vision and eventually a roadmap for the development of Wahat for a regenerative future.

The participants were diverse; farmers, agricultural associations, academic, development projects, individuals, and artists. The following five pillars were discussed in this workshop:

  • Culture
  • Agriculture
  • Arts and crafts 
  • Wild areas
  • Housing and roads

Wahat residents started to determine the places related to the mentioned pillars on Wahat map. Further, they started writing down the problems/challenges related to each pillar and wishes/solutions which can solve them according to the local residents of Wahat. Moreover, they started determining 3 priorities of the challenges for each pillar and consequently 3 wishes to possibly be worked on. The participants were very happy with this workshop as they had the chance to meet and exchange and listen to the needs of the residents of Wahat. Furthermore, they agreed to have a complementary workshop after 3 months.