On December 30, the EBDA, which is responsible for SEKEMs contracted farmers, organized a training in Beheira, regarding new advances in biological pest control, bio fertilization and an innovative technique in clean energy extraction, a modern Biogas unit.
“Feeding my children safely is my real profit”, says Ibrahim Al-Naggar, one of SEKEMs 28 contracted farmers in Beheira, who hosted the EBDA-workshop at his family’s farm. Al-Naggar uses his 34 feddan land to grow different crops for SEKEM, already since 1994. Ibrahim’s father, Mohammed, ones started to work with SEKEM. Today Ibrahim and his brother are managing the farm and hoping to hand it over once to their children too. In Beheira, a governorate located at Egypt’s north coast, 15 farms from a pool of 125 Demeter-certified SEKEM-suppliers are mainly cultivating caraway, artichokes and barley.
SEKEMs longstanding partners
Since many years, SEKEM is cooperating with suppliers that subcontract around 400 small-holding farmers all over the country. The Egyptian Bio-Dynamic Association (EBDA), that was established by SEKEM to support farmers in Egypt to shift from conventional to Biodynamic agriculture, is responsible for the collaboration with theses contracted farmers, who represent a fundamental part of the SEKEM initiative. Besides ensuring the compliance of the Demeter regulations, the association is concerned about maintaining the system of Biodynamic agriculture by continuous follow-up and providing training courses for the contracted farmers. At least twice per year the EBDA, under the leadership of Walaa Mohamed and Eng. Attia Sobhy, organizes workshops in every governorate where SEKEM farmers are located, to improve the connection, inform and update them about new approaches and seasonal agricultural conditions.
Ibrahim Al-Naggar is happy to be a member of the EBDA, not only because he sees the positive impact that Biodynamic agriculture has to nature and health, but also because he appreciates the support of the EBDA when it comes to find sustainable solutions for agricultural problems. Ibrahim Al-Naggar: “The climate conditions this year affected our crops badly. I’m really thankful that the EBDA is organizing such workshops and thereby giving us important leads on how we can handle the challenges.”
The workshop in Beheira was inaugurated by a session about the latest updates in combating procedures due to Biodynamic regulations, given by Dr. Fawzy Abo El-Abbas, national expert of biological pest control and professor for agriculture at the Ain Shams University in Cairo. “The crucial step of treating a disease naturally is the early discovery”, Dr. Fawzy remarked while showing the farmers some pictures about diseases attacking the caraway. He demonstrated how to tackle the most critical problems affecting the crops in this season, which are two fungal diseases: the wilting and the powdery mildew. Via beneficial fungi, the wilt problem can be eliminated efficiently.
“All problems our crops are facing, will be solved biodynamically, without affecting either the soils nor our own health. That is how healthy, Organic and sustainable agricultural ethics work”, Dr. Fawzy revealed. He also mentioned the meaning of a healthy plant for the extraction of fertile seeds that are very important for sustainable agriculture.
Furthermore, the workshop included the application of a new Biogas unit, as well as new procedures in bio-fertilization. Dr. Ramy Mohamed, compost and plant nutrition consultant in SEKEM, introduced this modern application and emphasized on its benefits in protecting the nature from pollution. The process of using the animals’ waste to extract clean renewable energy was already applied before in underground installations. “These units caused a lot of problems and costs as it is difficult to maintain and control them under the ground”, Attia Sobhy, manager of the EBDA, explained. Hence, the farmers were taught about a new system that can be used on the soil’s surface and is known to be much more efficient as it is for instance able to supply also the houses with methane gas, a nature-friendly gas. “The butane gas, which we currently use at our houses for cooking and heating is non-compliant with nature”, Dr. Ramy explained when presenting the new unit. “The production and usage of methane gas will be a very profitable step for responsible and sustainable energy generation.”
When Dr. Ramy Mohamed, at the end of the Beheira workshop, demonstrated how the new biogas unit works also Naggar’s children were watching the interesting installation with eyes full of curiosity. “This interest in the eyes of my children is the first step for awareness and will support a sustainable thinking into the future”, Ibrahim Naggar says happily. “I hope that this technique will be applied to all the houses in our neighborhood, so that we can guarantee a clean and healthy future, free of pollution for our children.”