Bioclear Earth explores opportunities for soil biology research to support sustainable food production in Egypt

Travel report by Monique van den Dungen.

On behalf of Bioclear Earth, I joined the Netherlands African Business Council (NABC) and Peter Prins of Land Water Food Consult together with 10 other Dutch companies on an expedition to Egypt. It was very interesting for us to explore the possibilities for cooperation and research into the role and effects of soil biology for sustainable food production.

Farmers in Egypt face many challenges

We visited a few large fruit and vegetable producers in a dry desert environment, a cooperation of small farmers in the Nile Delta and a few medium-sized organic farmers. Striking was the will to grow food sustainably, but the circumstances do not make this easy. Disease and weed pressure are high, water quality is insufficient and small farmers have very limited knowledge about their soil and crop requirements. It is therefore easy to resort to artificial means.

 Africa is a developing continent. The population is growing and economic perspectives, employment and food security are not self-evident. I worked in Burkina Faso for four years and experienced this myself. The conditions for agriculture are usually not ideal: heat, drought, insufficient water availability and quality, salinisation, diseases and pests.

Development of sustainable, nature-friendly techniques are the future

In Egypt, I saw a fairly rapidly developing agricultural and horticultural sector, producing for both the domestic and European markets. This will soon inspire the rest of Africa, because what can be accomplished there can be done elsewhere. Therefore, we must look ahead, dare to make choices now and develop sustainable nature-friendly techniques to introduce resilient, productive and climate smart agriculture that can cope with all challenges. With our knowledge of the power of healthy microbiology in agricultural soils, we would like to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals: SDG2 Ending hunger, SDG13 Tackling climate change, SDG15 Protecting ecosystems and SDG17 Strengthening national and international partnership to achieve these goals together.

If you would like to know more about the effects of soil biology for sustainable food production, please contact Monique van den Dungen.

Monique van den Dungen
Senior consultant strategic projects