Millions and millions of small farmers establish the backbone of Egypt`s farming sector. Only a few dozen of large agricultural companies produce on a professional level that is comparable to European standards. According to some people, the future of Egypt`s agriculture lies in the desert. Others disagree. All agree, though, on one aspect: water for agriculture is scarce. And it is getting scarcer.
20 million then, 80 million nowadays, 150 million in the near future. Egypt’s population is exploding. All these people have to share the same amount of water, that mainly comes from Egypt’s lifeline the Nile. According to a recent study, Egypt’s demand for water will exceed the supply in 2017. How to avoid such a situation? Will there be enough water for all?
Allright; I admit it: I`m putting this blog online back in Europe after returning from Ethiopia, since internet connections over there were terrible. Still, the country is developing itself really fast, largely unnoticed by western media.
After ending up at the wrong dam yesterday I went on the road again early today to reach the Xiaowan Dam in the morning.
Normally, it would be easy to understand Mrs. Basilios Farag, one of the owners of the Mirhom Farag Farm, northeast of Cairo, but not today; especially not now. It’s Friday afternoon, and the muezzin is calling for prayers in the nearby village. ‘I think their loudspeakers are really too noisy’, says Basilios.
‘In the beginning, we slept in tents, because there was nothing here, just desert´, tells Dr. Mohamed Waeed, manager of the livestock division of DINA farm, along the Desert Road between Cairo and Alexandria. Desert really means desert here: we’re talking about real, yellow sand. And when Dr. Waeed talks about the beginning, he talks about 1987. It’s almost unbelievable how fast this part of Egypt has developed since then. Residential areas, farm land and an eight-lane highway now occupy the desert northwest of Cairo.
Agriculture is the main industry in the Mexicali valley that straddles the vast Colorado River delta. The 1.5 million acre-feet of water that the USA delivers across the border into Mexico are used to water these fields and to supply the major cities Tijuana and Mexicali. Most of it is used to irrigate the vast agricultural area that covers the northern part of the delta.
For more than ten years the American West has suffered from an unprecedented drought. With an exponential population growth and the temperatures on the rise due to climate change, water levels in the reservoirs of the Colorado River are going down at an alarming rate. Politicians and water managers fear water shortages in the near future; conflicts seem unavoidable. Patricia Mulroy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority: ‘I am worried.’
Bob Munson is one of those people you know when you live in Boulder, a friendly, small university town in Colorado, on the outskirts of Denver. In an earlier life, he earned a fortune in engineering. Nowadays, he’s a farmer, and a busy one.
I made it to Denver yesterday. Jeroen, the writer, didn’t. His flight was cancelled so he’ll arrive two days later. I spent most of the day arranging stuff like getting the car, a phone and maps. In the afternoon I drove to Wiggins 1hr and 15 mins north east of Denver. I saw the area from the plane when I arrived. From the sky it looked spectacular!