A high level Traveling Workshop was organized on April 11, 2016, in the Sharkia Governorate of Egypt by ICARDA, the Agricultural Research Center (ARC), Zagazig University, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The event was attended by H.E. Samy Sedham, Deputy Governor of Sharkia, Dr. Mohamed Soliman, Director of ARC, Dr. Ahmed Mashtour, Vice-President of Zagazig University, Dr. Mahmoud Solh, Director General of ICARDA, and Dr. Pasquale Steduto, FAO Representative in Egypt, along with other participants. The workshop intended to encourage small-scale farmers to adopt an effective practice in irrigated farming that uses mechanized raised beds to enhance water productivity and water use efficiency.
Dr. Mohamed Soliman, ARC Director, called the mechanized raised beds “a big step in the right direction.” Using this technology the agricultural sector in Egypt would be able to save on applied irrigation, while at the same time produce more food. In addition to improving water use efficiency by 30% compared to the traditional surface irrigation, raised beds, along with the complementary technology package, result in lower costs of irrigation and higher crop productivity.
The Traveling Workshop also aimed to encourage high level policy makers to consider natural resource management by nation-wide upscaling of these new farming technologies to produce more food by using less natural resources. The mechanized raised bed technology was successfully developed by ARC, Zagazig University and ICARDA, in close collaboration with their local partners, within the framework of the Egyptian National Wheat Campaign and the Arab Food Security Project, financed by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, the Islamic Development Bank, the OPEC Fund for International Development. It has been disseminated to farmers covering an area of over 120,000 hectares in Egypt. Environmental benefits of raised bed farming include a reduction in soil salinity, soil and water pollution, water logging, and drainage water.
The raised bed technology package has already been tested in farmers’ fields on wheat, berseem clover, faba bean, maize and cotton through an ICARDA-led ‘Irrigation Benchmark Project’ in the Egyptian Delta, financed by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The package resulted in substantial improvement in agriculture productivity and on-farm irrigation management. Highlights included an increase in productivity by 25% and 15% in wheat and faba bean respectively, and reduction in applied irrigation water by approximately 30%.
“Raised bed technology is one of the Climate Resilient Agriculture interventions that FAO is assisting its member countries in partnership with research entities such as ICARDA and the national agriculture system to scale it out,” said Dr. Pasquale Steduto, FAO Representative in Egypt. In recognition of the threats that continue to constrain agricultural production systems in Egypt and the region, ICARDA and FAO have strengthened their collaboration and partnership in 2015 through a new agreement with the aim to scale out proven, climate-resilient technologies, including the scaling out of integrated mechanized raised bed production package.