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Friday, 01 August 2014

Young entrepreneurs in Egypt benefit from training in agriculture

Twenty-three-year-old Yassir El-Shikhawi became the first one to construct a greenhouse in the rural area of El-Edwa city in Egypt, where a daunting unemployment rate has forced many young people to hunt for jobs in other Arab countries.

After graduating from secondary school, Yassir had two choices. He could either have joined his father as a worker in Libya, or remained in his home village in El-Baskalon with little prospects of employment as is the case for many young graduates. But with the help of the United Nations’ Human Security through Inclusive Socio-Economic Development in Upper Egypt (HAYAT) project, Yassir became an entrepreneur.

Since June 2013 when it first started, the HAYAT project has been helping to strengthen the economic development in local communities by creating sustainable employment opportunities.

Co-funded by  the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security Fund (UNTFHS), the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and the Government of Japan, the project is jointly implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and several other international organizations.

The HAYAT project in El-Edwa provides extensive agricultural training in the district. “My family owns a few feddan of land and given my educational background in agriculture, I decided to apply for HAYAT’s workshops to expand my knowledge,” said Yassir, who graduated together with 50 other agronomists after going through on-the-field agricultural extension training.

The training sessions covered such issues as proper irrigation and land preparation techniques, the adequate use of fertilizers, effective and environmentally friendly pest control mechanisms, as well as marketing support to small farmers and agro-industrial value addition demonstrations.

In order to link participants with service providers and allow for a better transfer of knowledge, HAYAT also arranged for them to visit demonstration projects in other areas. It was during one such visit in May 2014, that Yassir was inspired by a locally constructed greenhouse model managed through an earlier United Nations’ project in Egypt, and decided to build his own. He persuaded two friends, Rami and Ibrahim, to join him. With the technical support from the HAYAT project, the three young people constructed a greenhouse in a matter of several months. Now, with the irrigation system in place, they are expecting to start cultivating greenhouse cucumbers in their first season this year.

“I am very confident that with HAYAT’s support we will be able to have a good production in our first season and to start selling cucumbers of higher quality at a better market price,” said Yassir.

“We will keep supporting Yassir and his team,” says Ahmed Amin, HAYAT’s Agriculture Coordinator, “and will follow up regularly with them, not only during the cycle of production, but also in terms of exploring new markets for their products and adding value to their raw material if they are interested.”

The mere existence of the greenhouse on the landscape of El-Edwa has attracted the attention of the local public. HAYAT is working to expand the greenhouse model in El-Edwa through two large-scale greenhouse pilot projects that aim at demonstrating the benefits and best practices of vertical agriculture to the rural communities.  

Edited by ZHONG Xingfei
Posted August 2014