According to information from researchers in Egypt, the country has only 3.6% of its land area suitable for cultivation. These lands are located near the Nile River. The rest is generally a hyperarid zone, with maximum precipitation of 180 mm and in some places, precipitation record is zero. Apart from that, 35 % of arable land is affected by salts, in high concentrations, which makes still more problematic the existing crops. This situation is worse because the whole country has a population of 90 million inhabitants of which approximately 22 million live in the so-called Greater Cairo to which it is necessary to provide fresh and/or processed food. Data from local researchers (Ain Shams University) show that the country is deficient in wheat by - 55%, maize by - 45% and species for the production of oils by -80%.
A reasonable way to solve this situation is the replacement of traditional species, which require large amounts of water, by species adapted to areas of low rainfall, either as food for people or for animals to produce meat and milk. In this context, water and land are used in a more efficient way, since it is possible to utilize marginal land and water unsuitable for conventional crops.
In this sense, quinoa has shown as an advantage that it does not compete for space that today is employed by other species like citrus, banana, garlic, onions, grapes, palms, olive groves, rice, beans, and chickpeas. Quinoa also needs less water than the species mentioned and can grow in soils considered marginal: for instance may even use salt lands where currently nothing is grown.
Briefly, it has been possible to reach poverty alleviation in a specific target area by adapting a non-traditional crop to hard climate and soil conditions.
Partners: Argentine Fund for South-South and Triangular Cooperation (FO.AR), Miguel Lillo Foundation (Argentina) and Faculty of Agriculture, Ain Shams University (Egypt)
Esmeralda 1212, 12th floor, office 1204.
Raúl Ailán, Director for Bilateral Cooperation.
Tel: +54 11 4819 7555