The annual water deficit is 54 billion cubic meters annually. While farmers are still reluctant to grow crops that do not consume water, they can be grown on bridges and in saline soils, such as “squash, barley, quinoa and stevia.” Which can return to Egypt with high financial investments in addition to saving water.
“We have limited crops in Egypt that farmers do not accept, because they are not useful to them, despite providing a lot of water.” Said by Hussein Abu Saddam – the head of the Farmers Syndicate of Egypt. He added, “Pumpkin is one of the small-area crops. It does not exceed 4,000 acres nationwide. It is planted on bridges, canals and banks. It is not cultivated in a typical way in Egypt. The productivity of one acre is from 750 to 1000 kg of seeds. And about 10 tons of leaves and twigs that are used as fodder for livestock. Because it is a cheap cultivation, farmers do not accept its cultivation. Although it is adapted to climatic conditions.
He continued: “Motivating farmers to increase the areas of pumpkin cultivation – squash – needs awareness. In addition to applying the contract farming law to pumpkin cultivation to facilitate its marketing.
Dr. Ahmed Fakhry Ebeid, director of the Agricultural Research Station in Al Marashda, says that the arable land in Egypt has become limited, in addition to the lack of water. And this is a huge crisis for the state. In the presence of an increasing population looking forward to a decent life. Pointing out that the state is looking forward to increasing the agricultural area by reclaiming new lands.
Developing new crop varieties
Obaid asserts that the work in the research centers is currently focused on increasing the productivity of these crops in order to increase the development of new varieties of them. As well as the introduction of rare crops in Egypt that are resistant to drought and tolerant to salinity and require less irrigation water. As well as their life cycle from planting the seed to harvesting the least while increasing its productivity.
Agriculture for personal use
“Very few people grow squash and barley for their personal use. But others plant it to sell it.” This is what Talaat Al-Hassal said – a farmer in Zayan village, Al-Stamuni district, Dakahlia governorate. He added, “I plant 70 trees a year on the bridges of the earth, and I only use it, my children, and my beloved ones to produce it. And I never thought of selling it. But this year I decided to expand its cultivation for sale. Watermelon costume saves water like pumpkin. Before that, I planted barley, but I replaced it with wheat because it was needed.”