The Executive Managing Director of CGIAR, a global agricultural research network, Dr Ismahane Elouafi, has praised the achievements of Access Agriculture in reaching farmers, including women and youth, in remote rural areas of Egypt. Access Agriculture worked with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the Egyptian Agricultural Research Center (ARC) as a key partner in a project funded by the German Government in Egypt.
The Innovative Agriculture for Smallholder Resilience (iNASHR) project was implemented over 3 years during which there was the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to instability in farm prices and uncertainties in water availability.
Despite this, 18 teams of Entrepreneurs for Rural Access (ERAs) serving as digital extension service providers were able to reach more than 60,000 people in rural communities. Three specially commissioned “farmer-to-farmer” style training videos were produced, and 60 other relevant Access Agriculture videos were translated into Arabic and shown to farmers. These active service providers, half of whom are women, used a solar-powered smart projector to reach communities where access to power supply, internet connection and mobile phone signal can be challenging.
The teams have noticed that the videos have helped farmers to increase profits by using raised beds, improve soil fertility with legume rotations and find ways of working together to stop the reduction in farm plot sizes. Linking with other Access Agriculture videos on composting, group organisation and alternative feed for small livestock, real improvements in livelihoods have been shown, together with more efficient water use and reduced application of damaging pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
The German Government Advisor, Dagmar Wittine remarked at the project closing workshop, that the enthusiasm of Access Agriculture’s Laura Tabet (Project Manager) and Fady Wagdy Segfrou (ERA Coach), had inspired her during her field visits.
The Project Manager for ICARDA, Beza Dessalegn, said that Access Agriculture has helped them to understand how to reach farmers through youth and civil society organisations, highlighting the importance of a “farmer-friendly approach, based on science and local knowledge”.
Thanking all the partners, Access Agriculture Executive Director, Josephine Rodgers, concluded, “the challenge now is to expand the use of “farmer-to-farmer” videos to other parts of Egypt and beyond, across North Africa and the Middle East.”
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