How to farm fish in the Egyptian desert

Driving up to his eight-acre farm, 45-year-old Faris Farrag waves disparagingly at the construction work that surrounds him. “This is all new,” he says, pointing at what looks to be a residential villa under construction. “It just used to be olive trees here.” The land around his little plot, once the site of hardy desert farms, is being slowly swallowed by the growing satellite city of Sheikh Zayed, 20 miles west of Cairo. “And it’s happening all over the country,” he says.

The loss of its farmland is just one of the ecological problems Egypt faces these days, with the United Nations now officially calling it a “water scarce” country, and a population that continues to grow by around two million a year. But as the country approaches what some are calling a “water crisis,” Faris is one of a new generation of entrepreneurs stepping into the fray. An ex-City banker with an American education, he cuts an odd figure walking between the olives trees that for most of their lives were tended by rural farmers. And just like Farrag, there is nothing traditional about his operation. On this dusty plot of scorched sand, sandwiched between the highway into Cairo and the Hyper One shopping mall, he doesn’t just produce dates and olives. His major income comes from artisanal lettuce, organic herbs, and vast kilos of freshly filleted fish.

Read more at The Independent (Edmund Bower)

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