Although an estimated 96 per cent of Egypt's land is desert, the national government is reclaiming thousands of acres each year by drilling wells and building canals in areas close to the River Nile.
EL TAHRIR & AL SALHIA, EGYPT (RECENT) (REUTERS - MOHAMED FAHMY )
EL TAHRIR FARM
SV PULL BACK GV Desert sandmill.
GV PAN Desert on which El Tahrir farm was started TO young wheat. (2 SHOTS)
SV Water pump.
GVs Irrigation canal. (2 SHOTS)
SV Chemical nutrients.
CU & GV Sprinklers. (2 SHOTS)
SVs & CUs Tomatoes growing in field, being sorted. (4 SHOTS)
GVs Pea picking. (2 SHOTS)
GV Livestock grazing.
GV Tree windbreak.
GV & SVs Harvesting Foul Beans. (4 SHOTS)
Background: Although an estimated 96 per cent of Egypt's land is desert, the national government is reclaiming thousands of acres each year by drilling wells and building canals in areas close to the River Nile. The land is then sold in a partly developed state or given away to university graduates. Egypt has given its land schemes high priority as the country is trying to cut its 70 per cent dependence on imported food. Some of the better-managed and financed farms on reclaimed land produce higher yields than those on the more fertile Nile riverbanks. At the El Tahrir farm, about 100 kilometres north of Cairo, tomatoes thrive in the enriched watered sands alongside alfalfa, peas and many other crops that all produce exceptionally high yields. Improved desert areas can also become rich pasture for cattle, sheep and chickens, with their manure, supplemented by chemical fertilisers, providing nutrients for each year's crops. Egypt's two major desert farms are Tahrir, a privately-owned smallholding of 30,000 acres, subdivided for smaller investors, and El Salhia, a government-owned property of 56,000 acres. Managers of both farms aim for the right selection and rotation of crops to maintain the delicate soil balance and to keep the operation as self-sufficient as possible. Economy is essential as the expenses of reclamation and providing the farms with roads, wells, pumping machinery and irrigation equipment prohibit repeated investment. It cost 300 million US dollars to bring the 56,000 acres of El Salhia into full production. Egypt has shown that desert regions can feed the hungry and even make profits for the investor. The lesson to be learned by other desert countries is that the price of food is beyond the hungry - unless governments and institutions take a hand.