Newsletter Volume 20 – January 2023

Dear Reader, 

This is the twentieth newsletter of Organic Egypt project. It reviews our activities in January 2023 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

Training on the Demeter standard and its regulation

A one day training on the updated version of the Demeter regulation,‘Demeter 2022 regulations’ was conducted for the engineers of EBDA. The training started by discussing how the Demeter standard purports to be global in scope and yet, how difficult it is to establish global cultivation and processing standards due to climate and cultural variances. In the following sessions they discussed the role of biodynamic and organic farming in promoting biodiversity and its role in climate change mitigation. 

They emphasized that the Biodynamic farmers and growers must encourage biodiversity on their farms and gardens, as a priority, so their crops can benefit from this balancing effect. The third session included the Demeter animal criteria by which farmers should include animals in their farms. Ongoing training is required to keep the EBDA staff up to date and best informed about the Demeter and other international standards. 

English language course

Organic Egypt supports the capacity building of the partner associations employees, for that, a 6 months English language course started in November 2022 for 11 of IDAM staff. The course includes methods and skills of writing emails in English, making reports and proposals. IDAM’s team showed enormous progress the first three months and are looking forward to the coming three months of the course.

Farmer field school on IDAM Demo plots

The Agricultural Learning Center (ALC) of IDAM aims to showcase sustainable/organic agricultural cultivation methods. With the support of Organic Egypt, IDAM team designed 2 demo plots of ½ feddan anise and ½ feddan fennel during this winter season for their members. The third farmer field school with around 30 IDAM members was conducted in January. The topic of this session was how to control pests and diseases. The consultant Dr. Saber Hendawy also listened to the challenges and problems the farmers were facing during cultivation and supported them in finding solutions. The next session will cover the topics of how to harvest and store the crop.

TRAINING AND LEARNING MATERIAL CREATED WITH OUR PARTNERS

Recipe Videos for consumer awareness

In light of the cooperation between RDNA and Organic Egypts to raise awareness, RDNA is producing and sharing recipe videos which are healthy, engaging and easy to do at home. The recipe videos are a short, fun, visual way to communicate with the consumers. This January  the recipe videos included Healthy Halawa Spread, Egyptian Meatloaf - Hawawshi meatloaf, Rye Bread “Champions Bread” Egyptian Style and Lentil Breakfast Dish!! All recipe videos can be watched on the social media platforms of RDNA and Organic Egypt.

Video on a long term field trial

In light of the Organic Egypt’s and EBDA’s cooperation to raise awareness, a video on the long termin field trail, “DOC trial” was produced. The DOC trail is a long term research trial comparing Demeter (now converted to Economy of Love), Organic and Conventional “DOC” farming systems. The trial started in 2016 and measures the evolution of soil conditions and profit generation. The trial results so far are showing that Demeter, EoL respectively are the best practices in building soil fertility and soil health.

Furthermore, the revenues of each cropping system are being measured, and the EoL managed crops have up to 28% higher the profits than the conventional counterpart; this comes amongst others, from the EoL carbon credit systems that rewards carbon sequestration. The video was published on Organic Egypt’s and EBDA’s social media platforms.

Manuals for organic Anise and fennel production

In order to spread knowledge about organic agriculture in Arabic language, two Manuals were created for the production of organic anise and fennel. The manuals include all steps of cultivation, good harvesting practices, post-harvest treatments like drying and appropriate methods for storage and packaging. The manuals are provided for free on the Knowledge Bank of Organic Egypt. Following the links: Organic Anise Manual and Organic Fennel Manual 

Organic Agriculture Advice

With the support of the organic agriculture experts, we publish advices on organic agricultural cultivation methods on our social media platforms in a simple Arabic language.  During this January we published an advice on the nicandra plant, including a brief description of the plant, its origins, and how to make organic pest control out of  it. We get very high reaches on this post and many questions from interested people. 

EDUCATIONAL AND AWARENESS RAISING CAMPAIGNS

Farmers and Processors Market

Organic Egypt in cooperation with RDNA, implements Farmers and Processors Markets in an open space at KMT house, Maadi in Cairo. In January, RDNA conducted a Farmers Market where 10 vendors participated. The day was filled with lots of great conversations and discussions, tastings and more to bring consumers closer to producers and farmers, around 300 guests visited the market.

Consumer  Excursion

Consumer Excursions are designed to bring consumers closer to farmers and producers. With our strategic partner RDNA we conduct monthly consumer-farmer excursions. The excursion this January was organized to Sara Organic Farm, a farm around 70 km north-west of Cairo. 20 adults and 13 children participated. The program included a farm tour walk and farm lunch. The focus of this excursion was on Kohlrabi (german turnip) with a talk and harvest. Another activity was baking Egyptian baladi bread, animal petting and planting seedlings in a pot to take home.

NETWORKING ACTIVITIES OF ORGANIC EGYPT PROJECT

Meeting with the Agricultural Export Council

Organic Egypt team organized a meeting with Dr. Hany Hussein (General manager of the Agricultural Export Council) (AEC) to discuss possible cooperation and check the status of the committee for organic produce and how to activate it. The Agriculture Export Council is a non profit organization aimed to develop the export sector of agricultural products. It's an advisory council to the Minister of Trade and Industry, and it represents the Egyptian agricultural exporters. They have different committees within the AEC on each crop, some years ago, they had a committee for organic producers as well, but this committee stopped working. They have significant experience in conducting trainings on specific crops and its quality standards, and how to understand the international market and facilitate the exportation processes. During the meeting, we found a lot of common interests, which will motivate us to conduct a fruitful cooperation in the future.

Workshop with GEBAL about microcredits for small scale farmers

Organic Egypt was invited to attend a workshop with GEBAL company, which brought together farmers from Upper Egypt, the Delta, and the Western Desert, as well as representatives of different Egyptian banks and insurance companies, international organizations such as UNDP and FAO, as well as representatives of GIZ and the EU Delegation to Egypt to discuss microcredit systems for small scale farmers in Egypt. They used the design thinking method, to find solutions for the financial issues that face the farmers, specially small farmers who want to implement sustainable agriculture practice in Egypt. Many different options and bank products were discussed in group works. The day was very fruitful and full of interesting activities and insightful ideas.

Meeting with J-PAL

Organic Egypt project organized a meeting with J-PAL MENDA, Demeter Egypt and the Economy of Love team to discuss possible corporations. J-PAL Global conducts research, policy, education, and capacity building work to ensure that policy is informed by scientific evidence. They provide research and policy expertise in each of J-PAL’s 11 sectors: Agriculture; Crime, Violence, and Conflict; Education; Environment, Energy, and Climate Change; Finance; Firms; Gender; Health; Labor Markets; Political Economy and Governance, and Social Protection. J-PAL Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the youngest office from all seven offices worldwide and is based at the American University in Cairo.

It leads J-PAL’s work in the MENDA region and conducts randomized evaluations, builds partnerships for evidence-informed policymaking, and helps partners scale up effective programs. J-PAL MENA is interested in increasing their scope of work in the MENA region in the topics of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change and asked for a meeting with Organic Egypt and EBDA team. EBDA is very much interested in measuring the impact of the Economy of Love Carbon Credit standard as well as elaborating ways to scale the EoL CC in Egypt. Ways of cooperation are being discussed at the moment.

Kick-off event for opening a new EBDA branch in Nuweiba, Sinai

In cooperation with Habiba Organic Farm, the EBDA held a kick- off event to open a new branch for EBDA in Sinai as requests from many farmers that want to convert their farm to organic and EoL cultivation were received.The meeting started with an introduction about EBDA and how to get a member and what the membership benefits are.

The kick off event was attended by 25 people, several topics, including organic pest control and organic fertilization were discussed. The Kick-off event included farm visits to get an overview on the challenges encountered by the farmers. Also visits to the women farmers of Nuweiba were conducted, where discussion around their agriculture knowledge and challenges were elaborated. 

To open a branch in Sinai is a first step for EBDA’s towards achieving its vision, a future where biodynamic and organic agriculture are in the spotlight as mainstream models in Egypt.