Since 1977, the SEKEM Initiative in Egypt has already reclaimed and cultivated more than 680 hectares of desert land. Back then, greening the desert had been already an important step in order to shape a sustainable future and to tackle food insecurity or environmental challenges. Today, this is of more urgency than ever; considering that the worldwide food demand is constantly growing while at the same time the fertile soils on this planet is decreasing. Every minute, the world loses fertile soils equivalent to 30 soccer fields due to soil erosion and an increasing environmental pollution. To address those challenges, SEKEM aims to cultivate 63 additional hectares of desert land in 2019 in order to grow Biodynamic (Demeter-certified) food that is not harming the environment but providing a healthy nutrition to the people.
Investing money in “Greening the Desert”: For food security, CO2 savings and sustainable livelihoods
In order to build up fertile, healthy soil in the desert by Biodynamic farming methods, sustainable irrigation is crucial. The required water will be extracted from deep wells and distributed by circle irrigation systems (pivots); SEKEM intends to install 3 of those water saving Pivot-systems. In order to not only minimize water usage but CO2 emissions as well, the new irrigation systems will be powered by a hybrid system that maximizes the use of solar energy. To finance these new solar-irrigation systems, SEKEM needs a start-up capital of 400 000 Euros until in a few years the new agriculture will be able to cover all costs itself.
Buying – Lending – Giving
To cover those costs, SEKEM launches a crowdfunding campaign that offers three different ways of supporting the project. Each Euro invested, allows SEKEM to reclaim another 1.44 square meters of desert land.
Buying: With this option, people can join the project and become carbon neutral at the same time. The SEKEM Online Shop offers CO2 certificates, acquired from SEKEM’s afforestation projects and the Biodynamic agriculture in the Egyptian desert. The return of those certificates will directly be reinvested into the project “Greening the Desert”
• Interest bearing loan of at minimum 1000 Euros. The interest is distributed once a year in SEKEM vouchers (SEKEM vouchers can be cashed in the SEKEM Online Shop and the SEKEM Guesthouse). The amount of the interest rate can be chosen up to 10% p.a.
• Interest free loans will be accepted from 250 to 25 000 Euros.
Giving: Last but not least, the project can be supported with a financial contribution without any return, by donating money.
SEKEM’s new project “Greening the Desert – 2019” will be implemented on the SEKEM Farm in the Bahariya Oasis, where SEKEM has already reclaimed several hectares of desert land, gained experience with solar irrigation systems and where the air is far less polluted than in other parts of Egypt. On the new reclaimed fertile land, the food demand of about 2 000 people could be covered. Through building up healthy soil and planting more than 10 000 trees, over 975 tons of CO2 are sequestered annually (equivalent to the average CO2 emissions of more than 400 people in Egypt per year).
With “Greening the Desert” SEKEM is able to foster three goals of its recently published vision for 2057: 100% sustainable agriculture in Egypt, carbon neutrality and ethical money.
Further information: pivot.sekem.com