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For more information about organic farming and sustainable cultivation and development in the country, check out the following sources:  Overview of Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish’s project to turn uncultivated desert into “an oasis in a hostile environment” from the 1970s. Trained as a pharmacist in Austria, he returned to Egypt and set up a farm on a 70-hectare site northeast of Cairo. Now with a network of linked farms all over the country, Sekem (named for the ancient concept of the life-giving energy of the sun) uses organic, biodynamic methods to produce veg, fruit, herbs and herbal medicines, pulses, oils, organic cotton and more.  Another priority is sustainable development and community enrichment. More recent projects include the new Heliopolis University, R & D in water technologies and solar dryers for conserving seeds.  Newer on the scene, the 240-hectare Sara’s Organic Farm on the Cairo-Alex Desert Road produces a range of organic food using natural manures and biological control of pests under the Sara’s brand name. There is also premium produce, marketed as Lara’s; it does not meet the same exacting standards but is guaranteed safe to eat. Veg, fruit, herbs, eggs, olive oil and date syrup are among the products, which are delivered to homes all over Cairo, as well as in Alexandria and the southern Red Sea area. The founders state: “we believe in full transparency of our farming practices, and we try our utmost to provide healthy nutrition while adhering to fair trade principles.” With an accent on responsible use of resources and pollution control (poor disposal of agricultural waste and run-off of water laden with nitrates and phosphates are big issues in Egypt), Wadi Food (“Valley” Food) produces olives and olive oil as well as pickles, a favourite food among Egyptians. Founded in 1986, the company has a “long-term commitment to protecting the land.” Education of school kids in environmental awareness is a priority. The company sponsors a captive breeding programme for the endangered Egyptian tortoise. Update October 2018: whereas the company used to market organic olive oil and olives, these products have now disappeared from the shelves, yet the branding of some products remains worryingly close to that previously used on the organic bottles and jars. Since 1998, the company has sourced products from farms including some that are certified organic by European agencies.

N.B. Several businesses use labelling that appears to suggest the produce is organic – either because the logo looks like the green/white leaf symbol for organic food, or because there are statements about “preservative-” or “chemical-free”. There is, however, no certification to back the claim up. The consumer should be vigilant – caveat emptor!


Honey: Located in an area north of Cairo, Manoufia Honey is a family-run business dedicated to producing “clean, unadulterated honey”, keeping their bees free from antibiotics and away from areas where pesticides are used. (Info from the company notes that infusions of cardamom and cumin can be used to treat sick bees). The honey includes clover and orange blossom, and there is also a desert wildflower product, with a strong and heady flavour.


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