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Organic Farming .. Good for Nature, Good for You

The project’s training program, implemented by specialists from the Desert Research Center of the Agricultural Research Centre and the Egyptian Center for Organic Agriculture (ECOA), includes 36 days of theoretical and practical training over 12 weeks with 50 trainees in each of its four rounds.

Known as El-wady Al-gadeed, the New Valley governorate occupies some 67% of the Western Desert and 45.8%  of the total area of Egypt.

It is the largest governorate of the country and one of the largest in the African continent, although it has the least population density per square kilometer. The area enjoys a mixture of the desert environment, green plains, wells, and springs. Yet the New Valley still does not attract people and the problem of unemployment especially among young people obviously exist, leading to a frequent migration of its inhabitants to the delta and major cities searching for other sources of income.

The Sawiris foundation for Social Development (SFSD) has contributed its efforts in creating job opportunities mainly through funding Projects offered by local organizations to the economically active poor, in order to enhance their economic activities, increase their revenues, and create and consolidate employment. Ultimately, this is expected to contribute to alleviation of poverty and to economic growth.

Under its Job Creation program, the SFSD selected the New Horizon Foundation for Social Development to start a project on developing organic farming among farmers in Balat, a small village east of Dakhla Oasis,  as an effort to promote income generation among the unemployed young people in the New Valley. The project aims to train people on organic farming techniques, which contribute to raising their standard of living and providing new crops of higher value-added.

About 200 trainees, mainly from the owners of small farms, have participated in the eighteen-month training program, explains Dr. Gannat El-Samalouti, the executive Director of the SFSD. The last training session gets underway in July 2010 with the last batch of 50 trainees out of the targeted beneficiaries.

The project’s training program, implemented by specialists from the Desert Research Center of the Agricultural Research Centre and the Egyptian Center for Organic Agriculture (ECOA), includes 36 days of theoretical and practical training over 12 weeks with 50 trainees in each of its four rounds.

The training program, she says, has provided employment opportunities for men and women in the area, given participants skills to implement new organic farming methods based on drip irrigation and raised awareness of food safety and protecting the environment.

The project, she adds, succeeded in establishing organic greenhouses and organic nurseries to sell seedlings suitable for organic farming. It has helped in creating self-employment opportunities in the small farms owned by young people to apply the methods of organic farming practiced during the training.

The project has also opened new job opportunities for women in the village by creating a new lending system based on the provision of cash loans for livestock and birds to be repaid by Compost manure products equal to the value of loan installment.