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Follow-up training for farmers at Belbies (Egypt)


The participants in the follow-up training at Sekem Farm (Belbies - Egypt), March 4-5, 2024

The workshop was organized by the Faculty of Engineering at Heliopolis University on March 4-5, 2024, at Sekem’s farm. It involved smallholder farmers, local stakeholders, and beneficiaries of the WATDEV project in Egypt toward spreading agriculture-based education and cognitive awareness within El-Sharkia Governorate as well as all of Egypt. This follow-up training workshop focused on the application of the best agricultural practices that ensure the sustainability of water and soil and increase yields and profitability for farmers. During the workshop, the participants discussed the identification of the most important indicators and data that will be used in programming and developing a planning tool that helps farmers determine the necessary irrigations and choose the best types and quantities of organic fertilizers, as well as biological control and it’s timing, accurately predicting the size of the crop and thus calculating the farmer’s profitability before he implements it in the field.

45 farmers and beneficiaries from Belbies participated in this training workshop, alongside the WATDEV project team from the Faculty of Engineering and project experts from ASARECA and ISRIC who facilitated the sessions devoted to the participatory selection of indicators and suitable scenarios.

This training workshop in Egypt followed the 1st module of the Training for trainers held in CIHEAM Bari (Italy) in December 2023 and which was attended by selected trainers from Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan to get more in-depth knowledge on the best agricultural management practices for their study areas.

New experiences and implementation plans have emerged from the workshop as well as the use of low-cost technologies that contribute to developing appropriate and sustainable solutions to the escalating water challenges facing Egypt as a result of population increase, and limited freshwater resources. On top of those challenges are the impacts of climate change, represented by increasing temperatures, water scarcity, and the reduction in agricultural lands due to high water and soil salinity.

 

“If the traditional and historical agricultural and water management practices continue, we will face greater soil degradation and severe reductions in various crop yields”, said Prof. Wael Khairy Gondia, Vice Dean at Heliopolis University. He also stated: “It has become crucial for us to change the unsustainable agricultural practices and cropping patterns with others that support rational management of irrigation water and the adoption of seed species that are capable of resisting water scarcity, salinity, and heat. This could be the way out to preserve the soil, continue providing food, and increase the profitability of the cropped lands at the same time for the prosperity of the future Egyptian generations. Here comes the responsibility of each one of us to preserve water from loss, waste, and pollution, because water is the most existential source without which life cannot continue”.

At the end of the workshop, the smallholder farmers committed themselves to switching from traditional chemical fertilizers to organic fertilization and organic biological pesticides, and concerning agricultural mechanization and equipment they committed to switch from carbon fuels to clean solar energy to ensure social welfare and environmental sustainability.

Overall, the workshop served as a catalyst for personal and professional growth. Engaging presentations, interactive exercises, and group discussions about best management practices created a dynamic learning environment, fostering active participation and knowledge sharing among attendees. The workshop’s success was evident in the positive feedback received from participants, who expressed newfound confidence in their leadership capabilities and a clear understanding of how to apply the acquired skills in their professional roles.


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