“I turned my little room into a private garden”… Initiatives to plant roofs and balconies in Egypt

Al-Zar’ was his companion in exile. After Muhammad Al-Sayed (35 years old) left his home in Ezbet Sabaa in Minya Governorate in southern Egypt, he was looking for something that reminded him of his father, who as a farmer, and the village in which he grew up and grew up, and Al-Zar’a was the spiritual mediator connecting him with them. He was not satisfied with farming inside his home, but decided to transfer the experience he gained from his father and his studies at the agricultural school in his village to help lovers of home gardening and roofs.

Muhammad recounts: “I left agriculture and worked as a manager after completing my studies in one of the companies affiliated to the Suez Canal Authority, then settled in the city of Port Said in the north-east of Egypt. Agriculture alone is not enough for a good life, but my love for it made me turn my small room in my new residence into a garden Especially where I grow most kinds of fruits and vegetables, and the garden grew over time, so that the most of the vegetables and fruits that my co-workers and I eat are what I grow, which has saved us a large part of our food expenses.”

My love for farming has made me turn my little room into a private garden where I grow most kinds of fruits and vegetables.

Organic crops at low cost

Muhammad’s passion for agriculture began at a young age. He grew up in the middle of agricultural fields, and harvested the first plant from his hands when he was fourteen years old, and it was a sorghum corn. put in a little pot in his room, and he continued tending it until it ripened and harvested the wheat from it and ate it.

He told Raseef22: “My field of study was related to agriculture, so I graduated from the Secondary Agricultural School Bani Mazar and obtained an agricultural diploma.” For those who frequent home farming groups on Facebook, until I decided to start. my own page under the name “Roofs and balconies planting for beginners”, the number of people who joined it reached 73,000 members in just two years, and last year I launched a YouTube channel because some crops are not in ‘ A text cannot be explained Just a book or a picture.

In Mohammed’s room are ornamental trees, aromatic plants, some vegetables such as onions, dill, parsley and watercress, and some seasonal fruits such as melon and strawberries. They preferred home farming because it provides organic crops away from fertilizers and chemicals, and at a low costs, especially since the prices of organic crops in the market are very high.

Self-sufficiency and quality of agricultural crops

Gamal Siam, professor of agricultural economics at Cairo University, believes that home farming can bring great economic benefits and achieve self-sufficiency for its farmers, but it is necessary to conduct a feasibility study on the area of ​​roofs and balconies, and provision to make for the necessary land for cultivation and seed and calculate its cost, and he explains: “The average area of ​​buildings in Egypt is 300 square meters, and its productivity can be equal to the productivity of two carats of agricultural land. One carat (175 ) square meters) produces an average of half a ton of most crops, meaning that each building can produce a full ton of total crops.

Speaking to Raseef22, Siam pointed out that the application of this experiment on the roofs of buildings and inside balconies throughout Egypt will produce abundant organic crops, but to apply it correctly and achieve an economic return from it, the state must ‘ have a role in this by providing supervision of agricultural engineers to help Citizens and solve the problems facing the crops in order to obtain abundant production and achieve an economic return.

I teach them through the group how to extract arable seeds from the fruits they have at home, instead of buying them, how to grow crops from seedlings, and how to fertilize the plants with natural ingredients so that our organic can get crops at cheap prices. .

And he continues: “In light of the economic high prices in which we live, rooftop cultivation can provide a large part of the home’s needs for vegetables and fruits, providing this item in the family budget to be invested in other items .”

The “Decent Life” initiative and roof renovation

The Egyptian government has been focusing on roof renovation for several years, and last February, as part of the “Decent Life” initiative, which seeks to develop the poorest villages through a set of service and development activities, the Directorate of Social Solidarity launched an initiative for roof cultivation, in order to achieve self-sufficiency Self-care for the first families, by starting the cultivation of 10 roofs as an experimental stage, in Zefta center, one of the centers of Gharbia governor in the Delta of Egypt.

The initiative helps citizens to market the surplus and make a profit to create additional sources of income for the family, provide fresh materials that are free of chemicals, reduce pollution, reduce the increase in carbon dioxide and reduce water consumption, such as drip irrigation carried out become out.

On the other hand, in 2018, the Directorate of Agriculture in the Governorate of Beni Suef, southern Egypt, launched an indication model to train those who want to grow roofs, irrigation systems, production and breeding. Somasta, southwest of Beni Suef. The project continued to develop until this year, and the electronic portal of Beni Suef Governor allocated a part of it to display all the details that help citizens to work on their roofs.

In light of the economic costs, rooftop cultivation can provide a large part of the home’s needs for vegetables and fruits.

Reduces pollution and produces oxygen

An environmental study carried out by a research team from the Agricultural and Biological Research Division at the National Research Center proved that planting rooftops reduces the amount of pollutants in the air, and found that planting a square meter of rooftop throughout the year 100 grams of pollutants annually in the air, which In purifying the air of cities, it has also been proven that the plant of 1.5 square meters of surface throughout the year produces enough oxygen to meet the respiratory needs of one adult for a year, in addition to helping to cover the roofs of buildings and various facilities and get rid of garbage and dirt.

The study also found that roof cultivation reduces the harmful effects of mobile phone stations, as plants absorb electromagnetic waves and a large portion of sound.

“Eat you out of your house”

In 2015, agricultural engineers Sherif Hafez and Mohamed Tarek launched a rooftop farming group on Facebook, under the title “Rooftop Farming: Eating from Your Home Project”, to help agricultural enthusiasts use the roofs of their homes to grow crops to grow what helps. they meet their vegetable and fruit needs. The subscribers of the group reached 53 thousand members.

Speaking to Raseef22, Mohamed Tarek said, “I have been working in the field of rooftop cultivation for 9 years. I help agriculture lovers to take care of their crops through my experience, as agriculture is my passion and my profession, and I studied it at the Agricultural school in Cairo, and now I own a farm of my own for the cultivation of grapes.”

Muhammad (45) turned his interest and experience into a way to earn his living. He works in the cultivation of rooftops and private gardens, and offers his free experience to subscribers in his group. He says, “Many people have become aware of the importance of agriculture, and try to exploit any space they have, be it rooftops or balconies, especially that home farming is cheap,” adding, “Through the group, I teach them how to get cultivable seeds from the fruits they have at home.” Instead of buying them, how to grow crops based on seedlings and how to fertilize the plants with natural ingredients so that we can get organic crops at cheap prices.”

Muhammad communicates almost daily with the members of the group, asking their questions in publications on which he comments with sufficient detail that the members need.

The cultivation of one square meter of roof throughout the year removes 100 grams of pollutants in the air annually, which contributes to the purification of urban air, and the planting of 1.5 square meters of roof throughout the year produces enough oxygen to meet the respiratory needs to cover one adult. for a year

Prescription for the care of houseplants

In a study by dr. Dina Mohamed Salama Ahmed, a researcher in the Agricultural Research Department at the National Research Center, she shows that home farming provides an aesthetic touch to the home, helps to obtain a safe and healthy product, provides income for family. live, reduce global warming, and improve mood It relieves the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress for farmers, develops the habit of constantly eating vegetables in children, and helps in the process to recycle waste for use as containers in agriculture.

The researcher gives a prescription for this type of cultivation, including transferring the plants when they grow to a container that fits their size so that the roots do not wrap around themselves inside the container and dry faster, and watering the plants in the morning or under the sun so that the irrigation water does not evaporate, and the use of organic fertilizers approximately every 10 days. To chemical fertilizers or methods to control diseases and insects, they are used according to the instructions of each crop.

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