Since 2014, Fert and NSCE, North South Consultants Exchange, have been supporting associations and cooperatives in the governorates of Fayoum and Sohag in Egypt in the development of high value-added products: market gardening, aromatic and medicinal plants, arboriculture…
In 2018, the support focused on the Fayoum region and in particular on an association of date producers.
In this part of Egypt, date production is not intensive. Date palms are planted by farmers to delimit the fields, but most of the work is done by climbers.
Who are the climbers? What is their job?
Independent and mostly landless, they work for farmers and carry out all operations on date palms: planting, pollination, tussle cleaning, treatments and harvesting. These actors are called climbers because it is sometimes necessary to climb more than 20 meters high to pick the dates. The farmer, who owns the palm tree, remunerates the climber by generally giving him half of the harvest, the sale of which on local markets constitutes the main income.
Fert and NSCE are seeking to enhance this still marginal production, but potentially generating additional income for farmers and climbers.
Within the Biyehmo association, which has 400 members including 25 climbers, training courses were provided by Fert and NSCE for climbers who wanted to develop their technical skills, improve their productivity and have access to better inputs. These technical training courses provide them with knowledge of good agricultural practices and in particular the control of the red weevil, a parasite of date palm, which climbers have difficulty controlling. The climbers learned to master the endotherapy technique and, convinced of its interest, joined forces to buy 6 small pieces of equipment.
A technique consisting of drilling a hole in the trunk of the date palm tree to inject an insecticide directly into the foci of red weevil larvae.
Since the end of 2018, the association has developed a rental service for this equipment. Affordable for climbers, they can now rent endotherapy equipment and treat the red weevil in a more targeted way, using less pesticides. A new service that they can invoice farmers with date pallets to process.
This equipment combined with the good practices shared during training reduces the number of date palms attacked by red weevil larvae; 150 date palms have already been treated.
“I learned to maintain date palms with my father, who himself had learned from his father. I was not very convinced at first by the practices taught during the trainings but, after seeing the effectiveness of endotherapy on the red weevil, I put into practice the advice of the trainers. »
Next steps, enhance production value
Fert and NSCE are now working with the climbers and farmers of the Biyehmo association to improve the selling price of their dates, for example through group sales.