Newsletter Volume 25 –June 2023

Dear Reader, 

This is volume number 25 of Organic Egypt project newsletter. It reviews our activities in June 2023 and illustrates all interventions conducted with our partners, the Integral Development Action of Minia (IDAM) and Demeter Egypt (EBDA).

We hope you enjoy the read!

TRAININGS AND WORKSHOPS FOR PARTNER ASSOCIATIONS

Training on Agricultural Cooperatives

Organic Egypt conducted a comprehensive training program on cooperatives, specifically tailored for its partner associations. The objective of the training was to enhance participants' understanding of cooperative societies, enabling them to effectively engage with agricultural associations and farmers. 

The training covered various aspects, including the history of the cooperative movement worldwide and the success stories of cooperative models from around the world. This exploration of global cooperative experiences provided valuable insights and inspiration for the association's engineers to better facilitate effective communication with and between their members.

A total of 24 participants from EBDA and 9 employees from IDAM attended the training program. The trainer was Frank Bemmerlein, a highly experienced cooperative specialist with a remarkable track record of 20 years working with cooperatives in Africa and Germany. Bemmerlein's engaging approach ensured a highly interactive training environment, in group activities, participants formed imaginary cooperatives, established values, work systems, and financial structures. These practical exercises provided participants with hands-on experience and further deepened their understanding of cooperative dynamics.

Marketing Training for IDAM

Organic Egypt project co-organized a training with the partner association IDAM, on marketing and advertising. The aim of the training was to sell the produce of IDAMs members and choose the best way to market it. Over the course of 3 days, 10 entrepreneurs from IDAM communities and 5 office members of IDAM, observed and learned how to develop a marketing strategy and how to add value to the products of IDAM members. The trainers from the Educational Institute of the Bavarian Economy (bbw GmbH), who facilitated the training agreed with the participants to first focus on raising awareness on the benefits of organic produce and not on selling the products. In the coming period, IDAM will produce videos and pictures showing the benefits of organic products and place public advertisements highlighting the values of organic farming.

IDAM will also give a brief introduction to organic farming and organic products at the beginning of each workshop or training they organize. Also IDAM will search for a permanent location for the products of their members, to be exhibited and sold. One of the participants published a post during the training, mentioning the benefits of organic honey that IDAM and IDAM members are producing. The audience interacted with her and asked to buy the product.

English Course IDAM

Organic Egypt supports the capacity building of the partner associations employees, for that, a 6-month English language course for IDAM employees was conducted. The course included methods and skills of writing emails in English, making reports and proposals. The program started in November 2022 with 11 IDAM employees, which all graduated in May and received their certification in June 2023. The participants have improved their language skills massively and were very grateful for this opportunity.

Training on Biological control

Organic Egypt project organized a training in biological control for its partner association IDAM. The 3 days training is part of the organic agricultural extension diploma that Organic Egypt is developing. The program will be held for approximately one year and consists of a series of modules with all relevant topics related to the extension work in organic agriculture.

18 engineers and facilitators from IDAM participated in the training and learned about the principles of biological control in organic agriculture. The training was very interactive and engaging, as the participants had the opportunity to ask questions, share their experience in insect and disease management in their fields. The feedback from the participants was very positive, as they expressed their satisfaction with the quality and relevance of the training program.

NEW INNOVATIVE SERVICES OF OUR PARTNER ASSOCIATIONS

Economy of Love Carbon Credit (EoL CC)

The Economy of Love carbon registry made progress in its efforts to combat climate change by significantly increasing the amount of carbon registered from 56,000 to 84,000 tons.

This achievement was made possible through the validation and verification round conducted by the VVB (Validation & Verification Body) of the Center of Organic Agriculture in Egypt (COAE). The process ensured the accuracy and credibility of the registered carbon data, therefore reinforcing the effectiveness of the Economy of Love's mission to promote regenerative practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester CO2.

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 basil and ½ feddan sesame for the summer season cultivation.

The first farm field school for the summer season was held last month with around 30 farmers of IDAM. The topic of this farm field school was how to prepare the land, how to establish a nursery and how important it is to establish the nursery on time to not affect the yield and the vitality of the seedling. Further, the first growth stages of basil and sesame were discussed along with the water needs of each crop. The next farmer field school will be in the end of July/beginning of August, covering the topics of pest and disease management.

Effective Microorganism (EM) research project

The EM trial's second season began with cultivating maize to evaluate different EM products. Following the winter season's lettuce harvest, chemical and microbial analysis of the soil are being conducted. These tests will be repeated after the summer season's harvest to provide clear results on the effectiveness of EM products. The findings will guide EBDA engineers in delivering instructions and advice to farmers for optimal product application. The trial aims to enhance soil quality, crop growth, and provide sustainable agricultural practices through EM technology.

TRAINING AND LEARNING MATERIAL CREATED WITH OUR PARTNERS

Recipe Videos for consumer awareness

Organic Egypt in cooperation with RDNA Food store, is producing recipe videos to raise awareness on natural, local and organic food. The recipe videos are a short, fun, visual way to communicate with the consumers and easy to do at home. The recipes this month included ingredients like shiitake, king oyster and chestnut mushrooms as well as fresh and local rainbow cherry tomatoes and oranges.

Agricultural advice

With the support of agricultural experts, we publish advice on organic agricultural cultivation methods on our social media platforms in simple Arabic language. During the last month, an advice on the best agriculture practices for organic basil cultivation was developed and published. The advice included important points that must be taken into consideration like how to select the organic basil seeds, the seedlings, and the suitable variety. In addition the advice discussed the appropriate time for cultivation, and how the appropriate time affects the basil yield and resistance to diseases.

Awareness raising videos on organic farming

In light of Organic Egypt and EBDA cooperation to raise awareness, several videos on the benefits of organic and biodynamic farming were produced. One video about EBDAs work in the Wahat El Bahria Oasis, several other videos on the success stories and inspirations of EBDA members sharing their stories, challenges and benefits to inspire other farmers to convert their farms to a sustainable agricultural practice were shooted and published, as well as a video about the agricultural cooperatives training, demonstrating the outcomes and benefits of the participants. The videos can be watched on the social media channels of EBDA and Organic Egypt.

Competition for organic crop manuals

Preparations for the “Grow Organic Competition 2” (Ezraa Odwy 2) have been done this month, the competition will be launched in July 2023 in collaboration with the Faculty of Organic Agriculture, Heliopolis University and our partner associations, EBDA and IDAM. The competition is a follow up on the successfully implemented last year's competition where 150 students from 18 different universities had shared and that have gained attention in the media and press.

The winners of last year's competition were invited to give a speech at the Egyptian 3rd channel in the program “Sabah El Qahera”. 

EDUCATIONAL AND AWARENESS RAISING CAMPAIGNS

Consumer Excursion

Organic Egypt in cooperation with RDNA Food store, is producing recipe videos to raise awareness on natural, local and organic food. The recipe videos are a short, fun, visual way to communicate with the consumers and easy to do at home. The last videos were about how to prepare Ricotta Cherry, Tomato Pasta, Chocolate Rice Cakes as well, Herby grilled Halloumi Wrap and Roasted Lemon Parmesan Asparagus. Vegetables and products from EBDA partner farms, as well as other organic and clean products were used.

Rdna activities for healthy eating and consumer awareness

Organic Egypt in cooperation with RDNA, implements activities for healthy eating aimed at raising consumer awareness. In June 2023, RDNA collaborated with KMT Studios (a wellness and health space in Maadi, Cairo) and conducted 2 events. A two day workshop named “The Metabolic Reset”, where participants learned how the body works, what it needs and the reason many of us suffer ill health at a very young age. 15 consumers attended this workshop. The other event was a half day activity talking about Food Gardens of Ancient Egypt. The gardens in ancient Egypt were spaces to relax and enjoy nature, food and celebrations. They were visually stunning and served many practical purposes, sometimes also medicine. Dr Hala Barakat, archaeobotanist and environmentalist conducted this session, the participants had the unique opportunity to learn all about the world of gardens in ancient Egypt, their types, significance, design, and biodiversity.

CONSULTANCY TO LOCAL CERTIFICATION BODY

Consultancy to COAE

Organic Egypt supports the Center of Organic Agriculture in Egypt (COAE) to enhance their inspection and certification procedures. Led by Rienk ter Braake, two training programs were conducted in May and June 2023.

The trainings aimed to strengthen the COAE team's expertise in inspection and certification, develop efficient procedures and forms, improve the Quality Manual, and enhance data management practices. The trainings included an internal audit to ensure Demeter compliance, reviewing past non-compliances, and verifying product approval and labeling implementation. These efforts demonstrate COAE's commitment to maintaining high standards in organic and Demeter certification. Organic Egypt continues to support organizations like COAE in their pursuit of excellence, contributing to a thriving organic agriculture sector in Egypt.