"DESalt", Dutch-Egyptian cooperation in farming and water management under degraded and saline conditions
The Salt Doctors, Delphy, Nectaerra, IV-Water (lead), SEKEM, Worood, HZPC-Egypt, MK Farm
The project is co-funded by The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), as part of the Impact Cluster programme.
In 2020, the Dutch consortium started a project to assess how farmers in Egypt could improve cultivation and water management strategies under degraded and saline soil and water conditions. The challenge lies in adapting to a changing climate, desertification, water shortage and salinization and improving the short-term commercial revenue for farmers, while working to sustain a long-term business.
The aim of the project focusses on:
* working along side Egyptian farmers and establish new revenue models that can recopied by other farmers
* providing training on saline farming and water management to farmers
* building capacity among agriwater stakeholders on new revenue models and ways of cooperation
In short, the project focusses on creating business cases for saline agriculture and build capacity for the further implementation of sustainable saline agricultural practices. Creating business cases is important to show farmers that saline agriculture is possible and profitable. The continued upscaling of DESALT will lead to a large network of farmers that are able to produce more high-yield, high-demand crops, thus strengthening their domestic and international position. This attracts further investment and improves the trade position.
The project is ongoing and the activities focus on developing a year-round cultivation strategy for there farmers of Sekem, but also improving onion cultivation (Worood) and identifying even more salt tolerant potato varieties for the Egyptian market (HZPC-Egypt) are part of the activities. At Sekem, we work with crops like potato, beetroot, cauliflower, tomato and various cover crops and forages like sorghum, cow pea and clover species. The part of capacity building is done by training, demonstration, E-learning, consultancy and group learning.
Some of the results include the validation of potato cultivation under saline conditions. At a plot of Sekem Farm, the seasonal mean soil salinity level was 5.5 dS/m (ECe). Of the 8 potato varieties, 4 varieties showed yields of 32 tons/ha. This maximum yield was achieved with the high compost treatment, that showed a yield increase in the range of 27 to 54%, compared to the low compost treatment. Looking at the cost-benefit analysis, the profit increased by a maximum of 14% when using the high yielding varieties and the high compost treatment. This 14% profit increase is based on the potato prices of the year of harvest, and it should be noted that potato prices were extraordinarily low at that time. When using more common potato market prices in Egypt, the profit increased to 88% instead of 14%. So, in this study the results show that the application of a relative large amount of compost on a salt-affected soil improves the yield of most potato varieties and this yield increase offsets the additional investment that is required.
Link for more info: This research has also been published in the “Proceedings of the global symposium on salt-affected soils”, as part of FAO-INSAS, which took place in October 2021.
Some of the results of a very succesful experiment on potato cultivation under saline conditions can be found here, on the website of the FAO.