Source: Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper
Publication date: 23-10-2018
Dr. Mohamed El-Ghandour, an expert in hydroponics, said that the national project for planting roofs gives Egyptian cities a new lung to breathe in order to confront pollutants, and that the expansion of implementation contributes to reducing the risks of infringements on food security and achieving social cohesion in cities, noting that the roofs have turned into dens for mice. And insects and waste storage, which necessitates a move towards hydroponics to ensure success in facing these challenges, especially as the project gives Egyptian cities a new lung to breathe in order to confront the pollutants that the population is exposed to.
Al-Ghandour added that there are challenges that require the launch of the national project for cultivating rooftops, including that the state has not succeeded in limiting construction and the waste of agricultural lands with laws and coercive force at the level of the Republic so far, explaining that the studies in which satellite images were used confirmed that in the period from 1984 until 2006 One million feddans were built on old agricultural lands at a rate of about 37,000 feddans annually, and during the chaos phases that prevailed after the January 25 revolution of 2011, more than 170,000 feddans were built this year, until it reached about 70,000 feddans in 2016.
He added that the trend towards planting roofs is due to the encroachment on agricultural lands, the population increase and the increase in the construction area in the city of Greater Cairo to reach 2500 square kilometers, in addition to changing the agricultural activity in the newly reclaimed lands, noting that these challenges turned the roofs of houses into places for storing waste. And foci for breeding insects and mice threaten public health and the environment.
The international expert explained that the national project for rooftop cultivation leads to the cultivation of more than one and a half million acres of rooftops with vegetables, herbs, fish and fodder necessary for raising domestic poultry such as rabbits, which contributes to reducing the food gap and increasing exports of vegetables, herbs, fish, shrimp, poultry, some types of fruits and plants. Ornamental production for the local market, export and fodder production from barley grown in hydroponics without soil. This project also provides job opportunities for young people within their homes.
He added that the project provides an opportunity for small, medium and large projects to produce production units and various production requirements such as seedlings, fertilizers, biopesticides, packaging and marketing activity for these products. It is a priority that must be worked on to achieve this goal.
Al-Ghandour suggested starting to prepare the regulations and laws regulating this project by forming committees at the local level to give licenses to establish rooftop farms for those who wish to do so to ensure the safety of the building and take precautions so that the activity does not harm the safety of the building in the future, and this license is useful for taking facilities from banks and operating bodies In financing small and medium projects, as well as benefiting from the technical and logistical support provided by research authorities in research centers in universities, research centers at the Ministry of Agriculture, specialized NGOs and the government.
He stressed the need to encourage organizations and companies that manufacture or trade equipment and production requirements, and young people who wish to work in this can benefit from companies that finance small, medium and large projects, noting that it is now possible to start conducting competitions among young people and holding a forum to discuss this project. It can be equipped with various bodies that give quality certificates to deal with producers of rooftop gardens after forming associations for small producers to benefit from their production for export and supply to supermarket chains in Egypt and the world.
The expert in hydroponics pointed out that models of the project have been implemented in Egypt on rooftops for more than 35 years, and that there are many research and governmental bodies, especially the Arab Organization for Industrialization, have begun to manufacture and establish these units for use in greenhouses and on rooftops, stressing the presence of expertise An Egyptian woman can expand the project and turn it into a national project that achieves its economic and environmental goals.
He pointed out that the use of soilless farming systems, in its various forms, to grow the rooftops of buildings with vegetables, fruits and ornamental plants achieves many goals, including environmental, health and social goals, explaining that the environmental and health goals are to reduce environmental pollution resulting from the increase in the areas of buildings and facilities with the lack of vegetation cover in Cities, especially as the cultivation of 1.5 square meters of green surface provides the individual with his oxygen needs for a whole year, and the disposal of trash that is stored on the roofs, which distorts the aesthetic appearance of the building and increases the chance of fires, and reduces the presence of various harmful organisms that invade homes as a result Living on neglected surfaces.
Al-Ghandour explained that the project contributes to the production of safe and healthy food by controlling fertilizers, not using chemical pesticides, and protecting the residents of the last floors from the high temperature, especially during the summer, when plants receive sunlight, which preserves the roofs and does not need the costly insulation process, as it was found with experience. The process is that by planting the surface, the temperature decreases during the month of August in the last rounds by about 7 m.
The agricultural expert stressed that it contributes to the production of fresh food for residents of remote areas that suffer from the presence of fresh vegetables in them, in addition to their high prices as a result of high shipping prices, and providing job opportunities for housewives and young graduates that generate a financial return for them, which increases the income of the Egyptian family, and provides large areas Of the agricultural areas that are grown with vegetables and exploited in the cultivation of important economic crops such as wheat, rice, etc., and through the cultivation of roofs can encourage social ties between individuals in the community.
Al-Ghandour explained that the project contributes to achieving cooperation between the residents of the same building as well as the street in agriculture, and that the exchange of produced crops leads to the interdependence of residents with each other and to solve their problems easily.
The agricultural expert pointed out that the general idea of hydroponic farms is a system for the production of fish and shrimp through an Aquaponic farm to produce vegetables and fish at the same time as a fish farm, pointing out that this system allows the production of types of lettuce using nutrient solutions for 10 cycles annually with an increase in plant density and productivity. As for the unit area, the production of strawberries and vegetables in hanging bags in a natural environment without soil, and the cultivation of vegetables in tubes using nutritional solutions and in tubs for the production of ornamental plants on roofs by hydroponics methods.
He pointed out that the objectives of cultivating fish in an integrated system with vegetable crops in the hydroponic system achieves obtaining fish free of pollutants, as the water used in this system is the regular tap water available inside homes after chlorine volatilization, in addition to obtaining vegetable crops without using it. Chemical fertilizers or pesticides such as radish – watercress..etc – spinach – strawberry – tomatoes, and transforming rooftops from a place to store waste into a producer of animal protein and vegetable crops and protecting rooftops from direct sunlight, which raises temperatures in the upper floors and provides job opportunities for young people Graduates, women and pensioners.
In view of the high costs of the bio-filter, in addition to the need for high maintenance of this type of filters, the idea of growing fish integrated with vegetable plants arose to replace the bio-filter as the water is changed due to the presence of ammonia, which is at the same time a source of nitrogen needed by various vegetable crops, and therefore When fish water containing ammonia passes over the roots of plants, it absorbs the dissolved ammonia in the water, and then the water returns again free of ammonia to the fish tank. absorbing ammonia.
He pointed out that one of the rooftop cultivation systems is the so-called “pots” system, which is used in the production of fruit crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe and others, and is also used in the production of leafy crops such as cabbage and red cabbage, noting that the goal of planting trees on roofs is to obtain An aesthetic view where fruit trees such as lemon, orange, peach and grapes can be planted, as well as ornamental trees.
Al-Ghandour added that hydroponics or rooftop cultivation is also characterized by its light weight to suit the roofs in the case of using plants as a bio-filter to get rid of ammonia, noting that the monthly profits from a square meter exceed 75 pounds, when 20 square meters are cultivated, the profits are approximately 1500 pounds with a hydroponic unit. A pyramid of rooftop farms and the work of the small motor for this solar-powered unit.