There has been an important spotlight on agriculture not only in Egypt, which is suspected by the EU of causing the E. coli outbreak in Germany earlier this year, but also other Middle Eastern and North African countries such as Morocco whose poor wastewater treatment systems result in dangerous contamination of agricultural systems.
Urban agriculture – whether rooftop or vertical – is largely touted to reduce citizen reliance on poorly regulated commercial farming and the general industrial food machine. But getting the seeds of urban agriculture programs to grow in a vast city like Cairo needs tender loving care. One group of friends is giving it their all.
Sprouting green things in many urban places
Our peers over at AlMasry Alyoum penned a wonderful article about Pamela Labib, Sumaya Holdijk, Bassem Khalifa and Dalia Abu Fotouh, a group of friends who started the Food Sovereignty Project out of concern about Egypt’s food security following the revolution that took place earlier this year.
They have developed an online platform where would-be and ongoing urban farmers can share their experiences, tips, challenges, and in general foster a community that will maintain a city farming movement that is clearly on the rise.
After its full launch in August 2011, their website will be known as Ezra3 (Grow).
This move comes in response to the failure of many excellent farming projects to reach completion. Labib and friends discovered this usually occurred because community members were unable to communicate with and lend each other their expertise and support. Knowledge, they discovered, is only half the battle.
“For two years I desired to start my own private urban agriculture in my garden,” says Mariam Ali, one of the first users involved in the initiative. “When I heard about the site, it really inspired me to start and get on with it because I felt I wasn’t alone. It also just makes life so much easier because there is so much uncertainty concerning what to do during the early stages of construction.”
All urban farmers are welcome
While the group hopes to advocate organic agriculture, they will not alienate users who are not ready for this approach. They also have the support and interest of South African permaculture expert Dominique De Bruin, who advocates a holistic design approach to urban agriculture. Great digs!
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