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Bid to turn Egypt's streets into a fruit garden
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 27 - 04 - 2018


By Salwa Samir
Thinking of a better tomorrow for Egypt, a researcher at the Desert Research Centre, one of the oldest scientific research centres, has launched a project to grow 50 million fruit trees.
Ahmed Hanafi's project, which relies on, is aimed at thinking outside the box, to make the best use of water and to save money on repairing roads.
"We are a group of young researchers who want to save water by planting fruit trees to replace the ornamental trees that use up a lot of water and are less useful than fruit trees," Hanafi said.
At the centre, he added, a great deal of research has been done on the ornamental trees that line Egyptian streets and it was found that they do more damage than good.
"We found that the ornamental trees use 103 billion cubic metres of water per year. The roots of the ficus nitida, for example, undermine the road infrastructure, and the state must carry out repairs, when that happens," said Hanafi in talking to the Egyptian Mail about his project which he launched in 2011. In order to reach people and spread the word about his project, Hanafi launched a Facebook page.
He posted photos and videos demonstrating how to plant different kinds of fruit at home. "The feedback of viewers was astonishing," Hanafi said. "They sent photos to the page of the colourful fruit trees they had planted.
"So far, 685,000 fruit trees have been planted in 16 governorates including the New Valley, the oases of Dakhla and Kharga, Menoufia, Sharkia, the Red Sea, Assiut, Minya, Cairo, Giza and Alexandria.
The trees were planted by 30,000 volunteers in various governorates, who have also undertaken to spread the idea of the project by distributing brochures to passersby.
The pamphlets explain how to plant fruit trees in front of homes, workplaces, around mosques and churches, inside schools, universities, institutions and clubs.
The researcher advises people to plant lemon trees. "The reason is that the fruit is rich in Vitamin C, the tree needs little water and has a good smell. It grows to a height of two metres and is an ever green.
"People can buy fruit saplings from the nurseries of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation. The saplings are inexpensive, costing between LE2 and LE5 ($0.113 and $0.283)."
"Peach, pomegranate and apricot trees," he added,"can be planted in season and orange and tangerine trees can be planted everywhere, while vines can be planted at the entrances of schools and government institutions."
The researcher said, "The best places for planting date palms are the roadsbetween the governorates, and the best places for olives are the oases, for the buckthorn (chokeberry) plant is Assiut and for the mango is Ismailia."
Hanafi said that if people liked the taste of an apple they bought, for example, they could put the seeds in a piece of cotton-wool or a paper napkin and place it in a little water in a bowl and place the bowl in a sealed plastic container in the refrigerator, for at least 20 days. At the end of its time in the fridge, the seeds should be moved to a pot filled with a mixture of sand."Once that is done we
can watch the plant grow before our eyes, little by little," said Hanafi.
"The project is self-regenerating.The plants provide free fruit to the passersby and this is considered to be a sadaka gariya (ongoing charity)," he said, in reference to Islamic endowments that are donated for the sake of Allah.


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