Urban farming in Egypt has soared. Read about Schaduf – a soilless solution taking root in Maadi.
Two Egyptian brothers have received enough donations to set up three rooftop farms in Maadi – a once wealthy suburb of Cairo. Due for full installation by April, these won’t be any old farms. Sherif and Tarek Hosny have developed closed-loop, vertical hydroponic systems that use recycled water and mineral nutrient solutions to grow cheaper, healthier produce.
Designed to become a secondary source of income for poor families living in the less-privileged areas of Maadi, where many expatriates and wealthy Egyptians seek shelter from Cairo’s bustling urban center, Schaduf’s farms have great potential to scrub the neighborhood’s polluted air and give struggling families a much-need fiscal boost.
A healthy supplemental income
Sherif Hosny is an engineer who quit his job in Dubai to work on an organic farm in the United States. He told Egypt Independent that he became taken with farming and decided to return to his home country with his new-found learning.
Through Schaduf, which name refers to a weighted pole device that is used to lift heavy buckets of water, the Hosny brothers hope to uplift families that live below the poverty line. They are well on their way to achieving this goal.
Already they have received enough donations to build three rooftop systems that cost up to $2,500 – an amount of money that poor families could never produce. Schaduf has implemented a scheme that allows them to provide the hydroponic system and training upfront, for which new part-time urban farmers should be able to pay within a year by selling their produce.
Not only does the system support a new generation of urban farmers, but the supplies used to create the systems all come from local manufacturers, which further fosters a proudly-Egyptian economy.
Supporting the local economy
Egypt Independent reports:
All of the products used from the wooden frames, the perelite (a soil conditioner), the peat moss to the tarps are locally manufactured. Schaduf has already received enough donations to set up three rooftop farms and is working with local NGOs to find families who are interested and have the appropriate amount of space.
In addition to the rooftop hydroponics farm, the Hosny brothers are testing an “aquaponic” systems that combines principles of aquaculture and hydroponics. Although they have managed to raise Tilapia fairly successfully, the fish die off during unusually cold weather, so Schaduf is testing various low-tech solutions that will maintain warmth in the rooftop fish tanks.
Critics worry that Egypt’s pollution will compromise the quality of produce grown on Maadi rooftops, but Sherif dismisses these claims.
“Trees in the neighborhood may filter out some of the pollution sediments before they reach roofs, and the plants create CO2, pulling pollution out of the air,” he told Egypt Independent, adding that if rooftop gardens “could have a big impact on Cairo air.”
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