Had my first day in the field today, about 90km north of Cairo toward Alexandria. And this is who I am as they introduce me:
What used to be called the desert road which was until 30 years ago, just that, sand. At that time, land sold for 50 Egyptian pounds/fadan, the equivalent of 75 cents per acre. Water and drip irrigation has changed that and now the land goes for $10,000 per acre, up. They started me off with their high end producers, all for export to the EU. First class operation. Visited peach orchards which had just completed harvest and seedless table grape vineyard, all trained on overhead pergola and partially covered with plastic where harvest was about two weeks from being completed.
We talked varieties, zinc and iron nutrition, timing and placement of nitrogen and reviewed their pest management plans, but other than an exchange of ideas, I had no concrete help for these folks… they don’t need it. Their major limitations are labor and shipping logistics. Any of this sound familiar?
Windbreaks are planted everywhere. April and May are the windy months when fruit is present and for export, everything has to be cosmetically perfect.
And, I would be remiss if I did not add how incredibly hospitable the Egyptian people have been to me. Here I am with Mr. Hawdy Muhammed, farm manager of Belco enjoying pita, spiced tuna, buffalo cheese and fava beans and pickled peppers. Yum.