Algeria: Success for tomatoes and potatoes from the Sahara desert

The IMF and the World Bank were clear: Algeria must diversify its economy and not rely exclusively on oil. Therefore, the agricultural boom that has been registered in the African country is not casual. It is a real challenge if we think that more and more youngsters are cultivating in the Sahara desert, one of the driest areas in the world. But what happens to these tomato and potato crops?

Many graduates chose a different career with respect to what they had studied for - oases are obviously the ideal place where to cultivate and last year ended positively thanks to the perfect combination of water, sunlight and good seeds. The government of Algiers is promoting domestic agriculture with a series of concessions and loans destined to young farmers. In addition, there's also the need to keep the region under control (the Arab Spring taught a lot) by creating new jobs.

Results are impressive. According to World Bank estimates, the growth of domestic production was astonishing and the agricultural sector could become stronger. Currently, the workforce represents 14% of the population, seven times those working in oil (2%), the lifeblood of Algerian economy. One of the most interesting examples is that of El Oued, a city located in an oasis fed by an underground river.

Temperatures surpass 43°C, but farmers manage to grow potatoes, peppers, grapes, watermelons and wheat very well. The method is simple - deep holes are made in the sand to create mini-oases, just like it happens for date palms. The produce is of good quality and, last year, it generated almost two billion dollars.

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