Picking your Own Greens
By Shorouk Abbas
Salad lovers rejoice! With a wide variety of fresh green hydroponically-grown produce being distributed in the market by Egyptian Hydrofarms, we can now enjoy an unprecedented selection of vegetables and herbs. Cairo West Magazine paid a visit and met with co-founders AmrBassiouny and Adel Shentenawy.
CWM: Amr, how did the idea for Egyptian Hydrofarms come about?
AB: We came up with it in 2011, when the economy was not great. I started doing research and development and experimenting on my own balcony. My partner Adel joined me later in November 2012.
How does hydroponic agriculture differ from other growing methods?
AB: We don’t use any insecticides, and our method of growing saves 90% of the water normally used in traditional agriculture.
What types of vegetables and herbs can we find?
AB: We have several types of lettuce, including Romaine, Butterhead, Batavia andOakleaf, in addition to the well-known Iceberg variety. You can also find endive, chard, kale and lovely fresh herbs.
How can people buy your products?
AB: We distribute through two high-quality food retail chains, which is a convenient option for many people. But, for anyone wanting to really enjoy the experience of picking their own vegetables in an environment close to nature, they can come and do just that. Call us a day in advance, we are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. School trips are also welcome, we think it is a great way for children to learn more about environmentally-friendly food production.
What message do you want to send the community?
AS: I want to encourage others to change the culture of farming and agriculture in Egypt. You do not have to use pesticides. Local markets are healthy and you can survive by dealing with the local market. A misconception in the agriculture business is you only make money when you export. I am introducing new, healthy crops in the market and I encourage others to do the same. I am changing the supply chain. It’s now farm to fork. My crops go directly from my farm to your table.
AB: It is important for everyone to know that they can start their own business whenever they want to. If they have an idea, all they need is a mixture of common sense, some business skills and a lot of hard work. When I started thinking of this project everybody told me that agriculture does not make money. I was also told that you need to do this on a big scale, otherwise it would not be profitable. I proved them wrong.