Between the 16th and 20th of February, 2020, two experts on saline agriculture and water management came to SEKEM farm. The students from the Vocational Training Center, some HU members, as well as EBDA representatives, participated in the kick-off session of a four to five week training program on saline agriculture and water management, funded by Nuffic. For this occasion, they were accompanied by two Dutch experts: Bob Zwartendijk from Nectærra and Bas Bruning from The Salt Doctors.
The aim of the training is to educate all participants in relevant areas of farming on saline soil. As it is tailor made, it addresses the specific needs of all participants and is adjusted to the real life experience on the testing field at SEKEM farm. After successfully completing the training, participants shall share and spread their knowledge with students at Heliopolis University and support farmers on SEKEM farm and the contracted farmers.
In February, covid-19 forced the training course to change its program. All planned sessions for the training on the farm were cancelled. Instead, participants, trainers, and organisers came up with an alternative plan. Despite not fully compensating the on field training, they gave participants the chance to continuously stay on track with what is happening in the field and increase their knowledge on the specific topics in theory. Hence, since March, weekly online sessions are held on the Big Blue Button platform, allowing participants and trainers to follow up with the theoretical parts of the training. Meanwhile one of the participants living on the farm took care of the field and the on site measurements.
After several online training sessions, the trainers and participants agreed upon a field visit. On 6 May 2020, all participants went to SEKEM farm following strict corona prevention measurements and spent the day on the field of the experiment. Motivated and happy to experience the practical parts again, the partakers started with harvesting some of the experiment vegetables. The harvest will continue, and they hope to spend another day on the farm very soon as well as having the trainers in Egypt once again. The training continues until the end of June and we are looking forward to the last weeks of sessions as well as the results.
Islam Atef and Victoria Timpe