Cargill helps introduce soybean farming to the Nile Delta
Learn how Cargill connects its expertise in growing soy and developing responsible supply chains to helping farmers grow soybeans in the Nile Delta region of Egypt.
May 2011 – Think about agriculture in Egypt’s Nile Delta and images of one crop likely spring to mind—rice. Rice has been grown in the region for centuries. But more recently concerns have arisen about soil fertility and the large amounts of water required for rice cultivation. So in this ancient land, Cargill is helping introduce a new crop—soybeans.
Cargill Egypt is helping to develop soybean farming in the Nile Delta by working with CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, local farmer organizations and government agencies.
Heritage of the Pharaohs, needs of today
The soybean project takes place in the Fayoum area of the Nile Delta, the land of the Pharaohs where Egyptian civilization grew. The project lies south of Cairo, past the pyramids of Giza and deep into the desert. Ayman Helmy, trading manager for Cargill Egypt says, “We are proud of the heritage of the Pharaohs,” as he looks at the pyramids in the distance. “Yet, we need to work on the Egypt of today.”
Diversifying Egyptian agriculture with soy
The idea for the soy project grew out of discussions between Helmy and other members of the Cargill Cares Council in Egypt about what social projects might best address the needs of today’s Egyptian families. Water rights have become an issue throughout Africa and even between neighbors. Because rice requires four times more water that soybeans, soybean farming was seen as a way to diversify Egyptian agriculture, while lowering water demands and decreasing tensions.
A farmer’s association – Beni Saleh – was developed with the purpose of aiding in soybean farming and a pilot was launched.
- The association has 364 members, 56 percent of the members are women
- The pilot began with 50 acres and expanded this year to 250 acres
Paying Egyptian farmers the international price for soybeans
Farmers exceeded their contracts for soy delivery to Cargill in the second year of the project. They delivered 230 tons of product, 134 percent of the contracted amount. Cargill agreed to cover the extra production and increase its payment. Half of the payment comes in advance so farmers can cover planting expenses.
Cargill Egypt pays Egyptian farmers in the program the international price for soybeans and processes the crop at its crush plant near Alexandria. The difference between theinternational price and the local price is a premium that helps fund community projects.
Soy profits help fund civic projects
One such project is a tank to discharge sewage from the village’s latrine system. The bright- orange manure wagon on wheels with the Cargill name proudly displayed in Arabic has helped the village cut its sewage-processing expenses in half.
The premium for the second year’s crop is funding a laser instrument that will allow flattening of the land for better planting.
Developing the future
This year, more than 1,000 farmers may be growing soybeans. Farmers in the Beni Saleh association have shared their knowledge of soy culture with other farmers, going to their farms along with Cargill’s marketing manager. Now, another farmer organization, Beni Swaif, is working with CARE and Cargill on growing soybeans.
The program, though currently small, has the potential to grow. Growth will help Cargill serve communities while strengthening its soy supply chain.