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Egyptian agriculture: "A desert beauty and a green paradise in one"

Elise talks to Maha Noureldin about farming in Egypt, water usage and general misconceptions related to food production in one of Africa’s largest breadbaskets.

Maha Noureldin
We meet at a BASF convention in Mannheim, Germany. Maha is young and vibrant. Her broad smile is infectious, and it grows ever wider as we start talking about agriculture in Egypt.

"Most of the world thinks Egypt is a golden desert. Yet if you would ask Egyptians to describe their country, they would automatically say it’s a green paradise. If I could send one message about Egyptian agriculture across the oceans and continents, that would be it."

"The Egyptian desert is a beauty wrapped in the sun silk waves of golden sands, while greenery blankets both sides of the Blue Nile River. This river straight through Egypt and has sustained this land’s long, remarkable life. These are the two real beauties in the oldest land of civilization."

"This green image or vision that Egyptians have of Egypt isn’t really weird, as most of the population has grown up in the ‘green’ part of the land. Most of the population has never seen anything else but a green beautiful Egypt watered by flows of the unchained ancient river."

"Since ancient Egyptians started farming and cultivation, agriculture has largely crowned the chain of Egypt’s professions. It’s no surprise that more than 60 % of the Egyptian population works in farming or very close to it − another reason to rethink of the desert idea. Today as agriculture techniques and methodologies are advancing by the minute, Egyptians are trying hard to follow the rhythm, and make the most out of the little arable land they have."

For many farmers in Egypt, water was never a problem. That is until recently when the lands along the Nile river, which were originally used for crop cultivation, have been redirected toward the high value demand for new cities closer to the old ones that have existed for hundreds of years.

"This is why many farmers have turned to the desert lands located not far from where they first cultivated. These lands are much cheaper than the old black soil surrounding the river boundaries. Underground water has helped a lot to turn those newly reclaimed lands, as they are called, into huge farms. These new farms deliver tons of fresh produce every year not only to Egypt but to the world."

"As we continue with our work to help Egyptian farmers cultivate prosperity, we have seen hundreds of model farmers succeed, but in doing so, they have managed to overcome the many challenges agriculture is facing in Egypt. Despite some difficult circumstances, I’ve witnessed some very inspiring stories, stories that prove how Egypt is truly a green paradise among the deserts.”