Sponsored Content: Heat-resistant seeds, crop diversification and improved irrigation are at the heart of the project’s success
Anwar Ahmad looks at his newly adapted Luxor farm with a smile.
Having implemented several interventions to combat the impacts of climate change, his crops are now able to guarantee food and income stability for this 52-year-old man to support his wife and three children.
Egypt’s already hot and dry climate makes it extremely vulnerable to projected increases in annual temperature and drought, and each year increases the burden on smallholder farmers and their families.
“Sowing and harvest dates are not what they used to be,” says Anwar, “it is now difficult to decide on optimal planting times for traditional crops and varieties, and for irrigation timing.”
As farmers struggle to manage drier soils, crops experience high heat stress and consequently produce less yield.
An innovative climate adaptation project focusing on crop diversification, climate-resistant seeds and early warning capabilities, is helping smallholdings on the banks of the Nile.
The program“Building Resilient Food Security Systems to Benefit the Southern Region of Egypt”, is in its second iteration after building on the successful model of the 1st phase where the project capitalized on the mobilization of local community resources to achieve better climate adaptation.
Funded by the Adaptation Fund and implemented by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Phase 2 maintains the same participatory approach and focuses on community ownership and improved water management facilities. water for irrigation.
“This phase aims to improve the model of climate adaptation by strengthening the capacity and coverage of existing early warning systems, adopting integrated approaches in the provision of crops, land and energy in the interventions of irrigation, and introducing new innovations and technologies to smallholders in the Upper Egypt region, such as aquaculture production and intensification of horticultural production,” says Amina Al Korey, Communications Officer at WFP Egypt.
Heat-tolerant wheat, sorghum and maize seeds have been developed by research centers of the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and crop diversification has been promoted in the region, such as the long deserted native crops of hibiscus, anise and fennel; fast growing and well adapted to the hot and dry climate of Upper Egypt.
Traditional earth canals are replaced with underground brick and concrete pipes, which speeds irrigation from 6 hours on a 100-acre plot to just under an hour. These channels also reduce infiltration, so water loss is minimal and can be shared among farmers using the system.
Solar-powered irrigation pumps replace older diesel-powered machines, helping farmers reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and move towards clean, sustainable energy.
Although the region’s men are seen as breadwinners in the household, largely due to a male-dominated agricultural sector, the project enables women to be financially independent as well, ensuring a balance between the sexes.
“With a cultural environment that restricts their movement outside, such contribution remains quite limited to activities they can do in the village residence, such as poultry, egg or dairy production, or simple agro-food processing”, explains Al Korey.
“Animal loans that provide an additional source of food production and income to the household bridge the gap between men and women in decision-making on the use of food products and the use of the additional income in expenditures household, including food, childcare and education.”
The project plans to support 500 additional rural women in the form of microcredits during the next agricultural campaign, a goal made possible thanks to a higher implementation rate than in the first phase and a greater demand for interventions. climate adaptation among farmers and women.
Weather technology was also a focus of Phase 2, with increased access to weather warning systems and agricultural recommendations in place delivered through speakers, billboards and Android-based notifications.
With this, farmers growing wheat, sugarcane, maize and sorghum can plan and modify soil management practices, irrigation and fertilization up to five days in advance.
Learn and share
Perhaps the greatest success the program has had so far is the increased community engagement through the transmission of methods and approaches between farms.
“The project regularly organizes exchange visits between farmers to facilitate the promotion of the use of new adaptation techniques within the same village and with neighboring villages,” explains Anwar.
This community exchange aligns with the Pillar of learning and sharing five-year funding from the Adaptation Fund Medium term strategyand with the Innovation Pillar and the Action Pillar, builds on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to serve the Paris Climate Agreement in vulnerable countries.
Ultimately, the project contributes to building not only local but institutional capacities at regional and national levels and, through the evaluation of best practices and lessons, can be used as a model for scaling up and replicating adaptation interventions. somewhere else. But basically, it brings tangible benefits to the people of Upper Egypt.
“The various innovations brought about by the project, from early warning systems to new heat-tolerant seeds and improved land and water management, are helping to reduce the cost of producing wheat crops, of sugarcane and sorghum between 20 and 30 percent, protect crops from risky weather-induced losses and increase yields by up to 40 percent,” says Anwar.
“Beneficiary smallholder farmers like me are able to secure food and income from our small plot of land for our families at the end of each season, and with an increase in income that comes with adopting the full package of interventions, we are able to maintain resilient livelihoods in the face of these climatic shocks.
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