Monthly Archive: November 2012

Nov 12

SEKEM – a Bio-pioneer for Food Security

The SEKEM Initiative was founded by Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish in 1977 to strengthen sustainable development in Egypt. Part of the Initiative is the SEKEM Group of companies which produces, processes and markets organic and bio-dynamic foodstuffs, textiles, and phyto-pharmaceuticals in Egypt, the Arab World, and on international markets. SEKEM is known as the bio-pioneer of the region which significantly contributed to food security through desert land reclamation. With part of their profits the SEKEM companies co-finance the social and cultural activities of the SEKEM Development Foundation that runs, among others, several schools, a medical centre, an academy of applied sciences, and other institutions in Egypt.

In 2009, SEKEM co-founded the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development which opened in September 2012 with the faculties of Business and Economics, Pharmacy and Engineering. The university aims at empowering students to become entrepreneurs and activists of sustainable development in all spheres of life.

In the coming years, it is planned to open a faculty of Organic Agriculture in order to utilize the vast experience and knowledge that has been built within the Heliopolis Academy of the SEKEM Development Foundation. Intensive research has been conducted for years in:

  • Microbiology,
  • Composting,
  • Food security,
  • Carbon sequestration potential,
  • Carbon foot-printing,
  • Desert land reclamation,
  • Clean technologies such as subsurface irrigation,
  •  Water foot-printing
  • Agroforestry practices,
  • Comparative analysis of organic and conventional agricultural practices regarding costs, yields and water consumption in Egypt.

SEKEM and Heliopolis University will continue to spread organic agriculture in the region in order to meet the great challenges of our times such as food and water insecurity, climate change and poverty.


Nov 07

Bugday Association’s Contribution to the Organic Movement in Turkey: ‘Sowing the Seeds of Change’

The certified organic farming in Turkey started in 1984. Organic production began with the regulation based on European standards and the demands from abroad. Almost the whole amount of ecological goods produced has been exported, although thanks to efforts of Bugday, the domestic demand and consumption is increasing. Ever since its foundation in 1991, Bugday has been supporting ecological, local and fair food production and responsible consumption by implementing model projects and creating awareness.

The basis of the ecological farmers network in Anatolia was set up with TaTuTa Project, (agro-ecotourism) initiated by Bugday in order to share the experiences and knowledge about ecological living. The focus of all this work was to popularize organic production and to remove the obstacles to enable the public reaching them.

At this period, the idea of ecological public markets was the only solution to create internal organic markets. Turkey’s first 100% ecological farmers’ market was set up in Şisli, Istanbul in the leadership and coordination of the Bugday Association in 2006. Whilst there were 20 stalls at the beginning, in five years, the number of stalls has gone up to 200. Today, the number of markets increased to 6 in Istanbul. Diverse Ecological markets have been set up in Izmir, Samsun, Antalya, Bursa and Ankara.

In its efforts for creating awareness on organic & ecological food, Bugday works with the national media closely, writing and sending press releases on a weekly basis. Bugday is also one of the few associations that have created its own media – the quarterly Ecological Life Guide, weekly newsletter and its through website constantly promotes ecological food and living.

Now we are in a “new” period. Small farmers’ life is not easier but there are more people who understand them. The return from city to village has begun, there are a few and small countryside living places that urbanite lives. Local seeds are sown, harvested and shared in these fields. Topics like traditional agriculture, permaculture, ecological living is interesting more and more people, the knowledge about self-sufficient agriculture and the harmony with nature is gaining momentum. The IFOAM Organic World Congress that will be held in Istanbul in 2014 ( and organized by Bugday will be the occasion to share with representatives of the world organic movement, experiences and know-how to pursue the goal of sowing seeds for change.

Güneşin Aydemir
Bugday Association for Supporting Ecological Living

Nov 02

La Esperancita Dies Last

I heard it 1980 at the Brussels 3rd IFOAM Scientific Conference: “The Maintenance of Soil Fertility”, and now, 32 years later at the Rapunzel-IFOAM One World Award, we saw our beloved Profesora Ana Primavesi, who’s whole life was on that topic, she being one of the great teachers and investigators in soil fertility. All social, cultural, philosophic, human dimensions of organic agriculture are at the end about this: fertile soils for everybody and everywhere and for a very very long time.

1982. I wanted to bring different dreams together: working in the field of organic agriculture and doing it in a revolutionary country: Nicaragua! But there was no “bioland” at the time, so Elba Rivera and I had to found it — and so we did!

1985. La Esperanzita became member of IFOAM, our campesino school of eco-agriculture in the humid tropics. Visitors from abroad questioned our work, asking if it was justified to “go bio” for European customers, when the Nicaraguan people was hungry. But we explained that European meals were way down on our priority list. Our aim was to rescue and improve soil fertility in a region that had been a rainforest only 15 years before, and where the degradation of soils had already begun. We discovered soon that ecological agro-forestry is the answer to the forest vocation of humid tropics.

1998. The farmers organized their own association – Sano y Salvo – Safe and Sound, which became member of IFOAM.

And we are proud to be with IFOAM in its 40th year. We are part of the biggest worldwide democratic member organization (after UN, maybe…)!

But there is a sad side, too: Nicaragua has now about 7.000 organic farmers, and not 400.000! It has 2 members of IFOAM, and not 200. The economy lives on gold export, on palm oil export, on work force export, on jungle trees export and of cattle. It doesn’t live on ecological agro-forestry, or on all the immense possibilities connected to it. Forests are becoming less and less each year, water resources are contaminated, many fall dry for long periods, and the climate change starts to be felt. Agro-chemical imports go up. GMOs enter uncontrolled.

Has it been our deficiency? IFOAM’s? Or is it unavoidable? Even the revolution died and doesn’t act as it should. Rio+20 did not leave a visible impact in peoples’ minds or plans. Market and business make the rule. But, of course, la esperancita dies last …

Gerd Schnepel

Sano y Salvo – Safe and Sound, Primera Asociación Campesina de Cultura y Producción Ecológicas en la Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur, Nicaragua

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