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Egypt: Pilot production of grafted vegetable seedlings

General information
Project location: Belbeis, Egypt
Consortium: Grow Holding BV and Libra Biodynamic Agriculture Co. SAE
Project Budget: Euro 1.2 million
External financing: 50% grant funding by PSOM
Project period: July 2006 - June 2008

Egypt has a high potential in the agricultural sector. The warm but moderate climate allows up to 3 growing seasons per year, which fit in well with the European off-seasons. The relatively low production and infrastructural costs in Egypt make the country competitive compared to other regional exporters.

These promising conditions are constrained by a lack of technical development of the agricultural sector. In particular, the intensive greenhouse and vegetable sector needs to adopt technological solutions such as grafting to overcome current constraints.

A major problem is that vegetable nurseries are not up to required standards. Most of the large exporting producers have to decide either to invest into their own nursery or to use existing external nurseries, who face problems due to low germination rates, uneven growth and sometimes infected plants, which in the end lead to relatively high production costs and lower yields.

In order to provide an alternative to these existing, unsatisfactory nurseries, the new JV El Mizan offers a reliable plant nursery and grafting service for export oriented greenhouse and vegetable producers. The advantages of grafting extend from the control of some soil borne pathogens like root rot, viruses and fusarium to gro

Although grafting is time-consuming and requires substantial technical expe

wth promotion, yield increase, low / high temperature tolerance, extension of the growth period and improvement of fruit quality. The technique is widely used in the EU and some Southern Mediterranean countries including Morocco, specifically for the production of tomatoes and peppers. The principle of grafting is to use a vigorous rootstock with high absorption and transport capacities, to provide the chosen plant variety with the required water and nutrients. This combination of a vigorous rootstock and a strong variety leads to an increase in production of up to 10% as well as improved quality and reduced infection. rience, developing countries such as Brazil, China, and Mexico are starting to give the technique more attention to keep their position in the international market. Grafting is used in Egypt for fruit tree seedlings but is not yet used commercially for vegetable seedling production.
The new JV raises plants to provide Egypt’s vegetable producers with healthy and profitable in- and outdoor seedlings and grafted seedlings. El Mizan grafts and raises plants in modern greenhouses under the supervision of experts from Grow Group. Through following the latest phytosanitary and agricultural standards and implementing grafting technology, El Mizan provides more profitable plants to their clients.

The total Egyptian seedling market of the six major crops (cantaloupe melon, cucumber, aubergine, pepper, tomato, watermelon) is over 3.5 billion seedlings per year. El Mizan chose 7 key producers, including its shareholder Libra, (a member of the Sekem Group), as customers for the first pilot year with a total seedling requirement of 6 million seedlings in 2006 and an annual growth of 15-20%. These producers are well known exporters of organic and conventional crops named above.


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