Tag Archive: innovation

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.

 

May 31

Soil Association: Better Together!

Helen BrowningI was delighted to be asked to contribute to IFOAM’s 40th anniversary blog, as the Soil Association has been an enthusiastic member and supporter of IFOAM for many years. At the heart of the organic philosophy is a recognition that all things are linked parts of a larger whole, but we must be mindful of this, and act to make sure that we keep our links healthy – we can achieve very little acting alone. Our work with IFOAM allows us to share and learn from many other groups, and we ignore this knowledge at our own peril.

And this idea of working with others is absolutely crucial to the success of Rio+20 if we are to develop workable solutions to the global threats of climate change and future resource constraints. Over the last 65 years The Soil Association has endeavored to bring the organic principles of care, ecology, fairness and health, into a world seemingly determined to ignore these values. As we know, there is only one planet with finite resources to provide for the needs of our growing world population, and we must find ways of meeting our needs while not compromising the prospects of future generations.

For us, that starts with the soil, that fragile vital layer of living material which sustains and recycles all life. Building healthy soil is the most reliable way to ensure we produce enough good food for everyone, while minimizing non-renewable inputs and increasing resilience in the face of climate change and a resource-constrained future.

But the future is about people too. We will always campaign for human scale activity, meaningful and varied employment, family farms and businesses, grassroots and community enterprise, and business models that allow for an ethical focus.

We need solutions that balance the needs of all: society, consumers, business, the natural environment and farm animals, both in the UK and globally. We work with those businesses and community initiatives which are putting organic principles into practice. We help policy makers both with pragmatic next steps and with adjusting the economic and legal framework to ensure that the right incentives are in place to encourage best practice to become the norm, not the exception.

As we move towards an uncertain future we need innovation in our farming practice, and innovation in our economic structures, and we need to bring bring all perspectives around the table, to find the best ways of meeting our aspirations to develop healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and production systems across the globe. The Soil Association is working towards these goals in the UK, and we urge everyone across the world to get involved with the goal of making sustainable livelihoods and development the goal of Rio+20.

Helen Browning
Chief Executive
Soil Association
www.soilassociation.org