As one of the oldest civilizations in history, Egypt is home to one of the earliest known agricultural developments in the world. Much of this is due to the fertile lands that run along the Nile River, which flows northward for more than four thousand miles and feeds directly into the Nile Delta. Its dependable flooding patterns have enabled Egyptians the ability to cultivate rice, wheat, dates and citrus fruit farms for centuries.
Today, Egypt is considered an important emerging economic market; however, limited resources and a lack of access to sustainable farming practices is a challenge for many communities that depend on agriculture to support their livelihoods. However, thanks to a new partnership with Technoserve, ACDI/VOCA and Kellogg, 550 smallholder rice and date farmers in this region are now getting valuable support to help improve their resiliency and productivity.
Meet 40-year old Mona; she is a smallholder rice farmer in Kafr El Sheik, a community located at the base of the Nile River Delta. She has been farming for more than 20 years to help support her husband and three school-age sons. Many Egyptian smallholders, like Mona, rely on rapid flood irrigation rather than more efficient irrigation practices. They also lack access to secure storage facilities, which can reduce yield potential by as much as 15 percent. As a result, farmers like her typically resort to selling their crop to traders during the harvest season, when prices are low, instead of waiting to sell when demand is higher and more profitable.
Work supported by the Kellogg Company 25 Year Employees’ Fund
Just to the South of the Delta is Mosleh Mohamed, a smallholder date farmer who manages 300 date palms trees. Date production in this area can be highly inefficient. Farmers receive little to no technical assistance to help with production and pest management, so Mosleh’s palm trees are often infected, which threatens crop quality and yields and therefore his income. During and after harvest is also a challenging time for Mosleh. He hand picks dates from the trees and drops them to the ground, causing much of the fruit to be lost during the process. Moreover, without access to a cold storage facility to extend the date’s shelf life, he needs to sell his supply quickly and at a lower price than the markets bear.
As part of its global sustainability commitments, Kellogg is committed to supporting 500,000 farmers, including smallholders, with climate-smart agriculture training and resources to help improve livelihoods. In support of that goal, the company partnered with TechnoServe and ACDI/VOCA to design and implement a training program to help rice and date farmers improve their practices to boost crop yields and incomes. The team provided on-farm training and shared best practices on climate resiliency, pest control, food safety, postharvest loss mitigation and business management.
Through the program, Mona adopted many of the recommended agricultural practices, including crop budgeting, and rice waste management. As a result, she has seen a 50% increase in productivity and 10% decrease in the cost per acre. The impact of these changes combined resulted in a 140% increase in Mona’s return in one season – her profit in 2016 recorded 6,600 EGP/acre and hit 15,850 EGP/acre in 2017.
For Mosleh, the training he received enabled him to control the pests that had plagued his production. He also adopted basket harvesting which significantly reduced post-harvest loss. Mosleh was successful in increasing his per tree productivity by 40% and improving the quality of produce, enabling him to command a market price that is 30% higher compared to last year.
In 2005, Kellogg acquired the leading Egyptian cereal and snacks company Mass Food Group. Today, a majority of Mass Food and some of Kellogg’s European rice supply comes from smallholder farms in this area to make Temmy’s® Crisp Rice, Ricco® Date Filled Cookies, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies® and Special K®.
Through the program, Kellogg has positively impacted 300 rice farming families and 250 date farmers and their families. By implementing these practices, they can help grow a more consistent rice and date supply that produces higher yields to sell to traders in the marketplace. Looking ahead, Kellogg is hoping to share the success of this program with other communities so that it can continue to support sustainable food systems and contribute towards creating better days for people in need around the world.