A brilliant new online farming system in Egypt allows city dwellers to become reacquainted with their agrarian roots without leaving their urban comfort zone.
Egyptian urbanites who have a desire to grow their own food but lack the farming skills now have access to a brilliant new remote farming system that has both an online and real world component. Inspired by FarmVille on Facebook, online gaming, and other remote farming projects around the world, eZra3 (which means grow) allows users to select their own crops and monitor their actual growth via a web interface. And they get to eat the healthy yields! Ashraf Al Shafaki designed this modern, low risk virtual farming program in order to address a variety of environmental and social ills in Egypt, including food insecurity, soil contamination, and global warming.
According to the eZra3 website, there are just over 9 million acres of arable land in Egypt, 20 million internet users, 7 million Facebook users, and 1 million FarmVille users. If just a small percentage of this population contributes to the eZra3 crowdfarming project, food insecurity could easily be a thing of the past.
eZra3 is committed to organic farming principles, which means that there will be no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, no GMOs, and no tillage. On the other hand, eZra3 farms will use companion planting, biological pest control, succession planting, and ensure a healthy diversity of plants and animals.
Gaming and beyond
Depending on each participant’s farming experience, there are four different solutions. Participants can get their green thumbs wet by playing the training game that “simulates the growing of crops in a real farm using real crop prices, fertilizer prices, from-seed-to-harvest durations and crop yields.”
Once they have a good sense of what farming entails (without losing money from failed crops), users can progress to the next stage by remotely managing their own small plot with dedicated online guidance every step of the way.
“eZra3 provides you with full information on what types of crops you can grow, when to grow them, prices of fertilizers and various agricultural inputs including labor and all you have to do is make decisions based on the info provided to you and on your personal preferences,” the website notes.
After enjoying the fruit of this labor, farmers might feel confident to tackle the next phase of actually owning their own farm. Again, eZra3 will facilitate the process and minimize risk by helping with the plot’s design and providing computerized estimates of how each farm will perform depending on its particular conditions.
The urban comfort zone
This system empowers city dwellers and online gamers who have lost touch with their agrarian roots to embrace a healthier lifestyle without leaving their urban comfort zone.
And they will be able to grow more than just cucumbers and tomatoes. eZra3’s farming expertise extends to 52 crops, 28 perennial trees, and 11 animals.
In addition to creating healthier food, crowd farming has the potential to reduce unemployment, create greater national self-sufficiency, and restore the Egyptian people’s sovereignty. It has been exactly one year since Egypt ousted Hosni Mubarak. And despite continued abuse from on high, clever innovations such as these demonstrate that the people are still strong.
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