Economy. First Harvest in SEKEM Minya

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1 Nr March 2010 Insight SEKEM s Journal for Economy, Culture, and Society in Egypt Editorial Dear Readers, the Arabic Initiative for Sustainability in the Gulf States (ASLG) started off in May 2008 with a meeting of the then 16 participating enterprises. Back then Helmy Abouleish represented SEKEM on the founding team of members of the venture whose envoys had come from an initial 5 countries from the Arab region to discuss how sustainability can be realised better in the area through the support of private businesses. In Egypt SEKEM has now begun to participate in the foundation of the local chapter. For its role the SEKEM group of companies can look back on a substantial number of innovative projects and experience for instance the production of bio-dynamic seedlings to stimulate conversion of conventional agriculture, the use of mobile solar collector systems to generate clean energy, or the use of modern information and communication technologies to raise efficiency in organic agriculture. We introduce you to the new Egyptian chapter and its work in greater detail on page 3. In the future the new initiative will serve its goals with major contribution by the SEKEM Initiative and all its firms. Your Team of Editors Economy First Harvest in SEKEM Minya First Harvest at SEKEM s New Upper Egypt Farm W here a year ago still the sandy soils of the Egyptian desert stretched towards the horizon SEKEM could start harvesting fresh green raw materials for its products this year already in January and February: SEKEM Minya, one of the new installations of the SEKEM Initiative, that is supposed to secure the supply of high-grade organic raw products far into the future. Remarkable work has been done by the co-workers over the course of the last months on the farm International ISIS Products Presented at GulFood For the first time the new SEKEM grounds at Minya in Upper Egypt allow the harvesting of fresh produce. Sustainability Arabic Initiative for Sustainability Dill is among the first products to be harvest on the new grounds at Minya in Upper Egypt that is situated about 240km south of Cairo. When in April 2009 the new drying plant at Minya was publicly inaugurated the contract for the grounds had just been signed. However the piece of land still showed the signs of the barren desert bounded by the hillsides of the plateau that limits the extension of the Nile delta in the area. Only products by contracted demeter farmers in the region were processed in the said factory. Most of them have been SEKEM Insight March 2010 Page 1

2 Economy In SEKEM Minya, too, the desert ruled until only recently. working with SEKEM for years and also grow sesame, cereals, and onions for the initiative. Since then the land has been flattened and countless truckloads of compost have been brought to and unloaded at the site. The compost hails from SEKEM s own production lines. The fertile material was then brought out onto the sandy acres by co-workers on approximately 130 feddan (ca. 60 hectares). This surface area is to be substantially increased in the future. The First Harvest Last autumn the first seedlings specifically prepared for the new farm were brought in: fennel, dill, parsley, celery, coriander, and also some cumin - each plant in its own place to allow for careful and reliable irrigation. For the co-workers though the workload stayed high even after the initial preparations had been completed. Weeds had to be removed, biodynamic preparations brought onto the fields, and the acres themselves had to be kept under close control to ensure that the wind did not blow over the fragile irrigation systems that had been installed close to the ground. The installation of such irrigation systems is among the most challenging tasks in such a harsh environment when a new agricultural site is to be explored and developed. The erosion of the fragile soil is a major problem, too. No natural wind protection could be installed on the farm until now, for instance. The sandy soil can be easily blown over by the wind. However, the first small trees to serve this purpose have been planted last winter already. They will be able to provide some wind cover to the tiny seedlings in the years to come. In January the Dill was cut for the first time. The work continued with parsley and coriander and still the co-workers are busy harvesting the remaining herbs - a great rewards after the hard work of each of the colleagues over the winter months. Great Expectations In the coming years the new farm that has a size of 1000 feddan in total will be developed further and further and be transformed into fertile land more and more. That will be the most important task for SEKEM, the people in the area of the new farm, and Egypt itself. Firstly, the new installation is meant to provide SEKEM with a secure source of high-quality organic raw materials in great and even growing quantity and strong international demand for a long time in the future. At the same time Egypt still cannot use more than 4% of arable land nationwide even after decades of reclamation efforts. It is therefore still dependent on the import of foodstuffs to feed its rapidly growing population and is thus in great need of additional fertile soil. Lastly, the Minya farm also creates valuable employment for the people in the rural area of the site that has been traditionally called the Gate to Upper Egypt. They receive new opportunities to improve their livelihoods in a region that is notoriously underdeveloped in terms of infrastructure and has a high unemployment ratio. This way, the new Minya farm also contributes to the sustainable development of the entire region and its people. Christina Boecker New Production Lines for Sesame Bars After two months of preparations new lines for the production of SEKEM s sesame are unveiled. T welve new workplaces could be created in the 3 newly renovated rooms that have also been equipped with new machinery. The production capacity on the new lines now allows the manufacture of almost sesame bars every day in the flavours orange, black cumin, honey, or cinnamon for local consumption or export. Production of the well-known sesame bars on SEKEM s new production line. The additional purchase of new equipment for the lines also allowed the expansion of the existing product portfolio to include energy and fruit bars. Product development is already in full swing for the new items. Two different varieties of energy bars are already in the final stages of market introduction. The new varieties are now waiting to receive the final design of their packaging and introductory marketing material. The new varieties will thus soon enrich the product portfolio in Egypt with the flavours Date- Sesame-Cinnamon and Fruit Oat Flakes-Dates. Sandra Poettrich is quality manager in SEKEM s firm ISIS and in charge of quality assurance for exports to European countries. SEKEM Insight March 2010 Page 2

3 Economy Arab Sustainability Leadership Group Receives Key SEKEM Support Helmy Abouleish and Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan launch Egyptian chapter of the Arab Sustainability Leadership Group. Helmy Abouleish and Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan at the opening event Giving reason to hope for an emerging broader movement for Sustainable Development in the Egyptian business community almost 40 business leaders and heads of non-profit organizations followed an invitation by Helmy Abouleish to form a national Egyptian chapter of the Arab Sustainability Leadership Group (ASLG). Founded in 2008 by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan the ASLG is a network of high-profile companies, government entities, and non-profit organizations committed to promoting sustainability management and its integration into day-to-day business operations. The group members work to raise awareness regarding the fact that sustainable development cannot be achieved without every element of society playing its part. Making business practice more sustainable not only reduces risks, sparks innovation, and creates benefits through greater productivity and better relationships. It is also essential to ensure future competitiveness across all sectors. Collectively, the participating business leaders intend to promote best-practice in more sustainable businesses management in the region and serve as a voice of the Arab world in the global debate on how to tackle today s challenge of developing more sustainable economies and lifestyles. SEKEM was among the founding members of the ASLG and Helmy Abouleish has been playing an active role in the initiative s further development. The Egyptian chapter of the ASLG will bring together current and aspiring sustainability leaders from the private sector and support them through knowledge, expert training, and peer-learning opportunities. The national branch was launched at the annual conference of the EJB on 28 February 2010 titled Sustainability s Competitive Advantage. After an inspiring speech emphasizing the importance of private sector engagement for sustainability, Her Majesty Queen Rania personally presented the membership certificates to the founding members at the launch ceremony creating memorable moments for all. Within the framework of the ASLG s mission to spearhead best-practice sustainability management SEKEM is leading by example with its practice of thorough analysis and open communication of the SEKEM companies sustainability performance for instance through its SEKEM Report on Sustainable Development. Using clear goals and indicators in the economic, cultural, social, and environmental dimension of sustainability, SEKEM measures its activities against its own expectations embodied in the principles of high-quality and healthy products, fair prices, responsible business practices, and reliable long-term partnerships. Magdalena Kloibhofer is sustainability manager at the SEKEM Group and currently setting up a sustainability consultancy at the Heliopolis Academy. New Products from ATOS During the last months SEKEM s phytopharmaceutical enterprise ATOS has introduced three new products to the Egyptian market. Pentox 600 SR is available from local pharmacies on prescription only and is given for the treatment of claudicatio intermittens an illness caused by a lack of blood flow in a patient s extremities. The illness that is accompanied by severe pain is widely known in Egypt and frequently affects men. Obesity and arteriosclerosis promote its effects decreasing the quality of life for the patient. A new Ginseng tea and slices of packaged Ginseng root were also recently introduced. The red Ginseng root has the highest concentration of Ginseng. Its antioxidants help relieve stress and fatigue and improve concentration. The root plant for ATOS Ginseng is imported from Korea. Clinical studies have confirmed its effectiveness in cases of type-2 diabetes. This suggests that especially in cases of erectile dysfunction caused by diabetes Ginseng can improve the patient s wellbeing. The new products are available from pharmacies without prescription. Carmipret allows the ingestion of peppermint and caraway in capsules as a dietary supplement to counter functional indigestion. The product is also available without prescription but can be prescribed by a medical doctor. It is thus available from medical practices as well as regular pharmacies. Christina Boecker, Nehal Abou Seada SEKEM Insight March 2010 Page 3

4 Culture SEKEM: A Model for the Future? The German support association of the Friends of SEKEM invites friends, partners, and the general public to its annual member convention at the Recital Hall, Stuttgart. How can we build a global society that combines economic success with ecological, cultural, and social awareness? This is one of the most pressing questions of our time. This year s annual members convention at the Recital Hall Stuttgart (Liederhalle) shall provide an appropriate opportunity to discuss the issue in a wider circle including representatives of various initiatives and the interested general public. SEKEM has transformed Egypt For 30 years SEKEM has shown in impressive ways that economic prowess can be successfully combined with social and cultural development. Dr. Abouleish began in 1977 to create an oasis in the middle of the Egyptian desert. Today, SEKEM is market leader for selected organic products in high-grade demeter-quality in some countries and runs a successful organic agricultural business on hectares of farmland close to Cairo. The Egyptian project has thus not only made the desert flourish. It also has brought society and cultural expression in the area to life. From the kindergarten to the university in development: SEKEM has inaugurated and maintains multiple educational activities, an academy for the applied sciences and the arts as well as a hospital for over people. In 2003 awarded with the Alternative Nobel Prize SEKEM has been working for the mutual understanding across the cultures of the West and East and a lasting exchange for years. Is SEKEM a model that can transform the world? This SEKEM Day in Stuttgart is a traditional event that has been held for many years. Under the title: Intercultural Competence a regional and global challenge the organisers this year intend to use the occasion of the SEKEM Day for the first time to include initiatives working in partnership with SEKEM and will be presenting their projects in the form of a public plenary discussion and exhibitions. The event shall feature introductions into the major projects of several of the partnering initiatives that work for education and the social and cultural integration of youth on a regional or global basis. All of them strive to supply youngsters with additional ways of developing their futures across invisible social and ethnic boundaries to lead a life in dignity and utilise the entire set of their abilities. This year Dr. Abouleish will also talk in greater detail about a specific high point in the development of the SEKEM Initiative: the opening preparations for the new Heliopolis University. The programme published here is only available in German as the event itself will be held in the German language. It gives all dates and times for the individual sessions and their topics that are spread across the day. The organisers cordially invite the interested public as well as all friends and partners of SEKEM and its various firms. This year s SEKEM Day 2010 will be held on Saturday, 17 April 2010 in the Schiller Room of the Recital Hall Stuttgart (Liederhalle). The organisers also wish to thank His Excellency the Mayor of the City of Stuttgart, Dr. Wolfgang Schuster, under the auspices of whom this year s event is held. Roland Schaette, Waltraud Bandel SEKEM können sie auch besuchen: SEKEM Insight March 2010 Page 4

5 Impressions Impressions from SEKEM The new operation room has been inaugurated only recently in the new wing of the SEKEM Medical Centre. The new room now provides better and more services to all patients of the rural institution. The room that has been furnished according to current quality standards and employs mostly used technology donated by European partners is already regularly in use and adds a substantial range of medical services to the portfolio of the SEKEM Medical Centre - services that are desperately needed by many in the vicinity who would otherwise have to travel far to either the next city or even the hospitals of Cairo. SEKEM Insight March 2010 Page 5

6 Obituary Elisabeth Gergely 27 August February 2010 E lisabeth Gergely had since her early childhood days dedicated her own life to the service of the Anthroposophic endeavour with enthusiasm, courage, and conviction. She searched for and found her own way on this path and has relentlessly pursued the vision of her life: caring for the development of other people with all her heart and commitment. She intimately bonded her intention with the SEKEM idea. Elisabeth and I both went into the desert to realise our visions because she also met with a desert climate in a metaphoric sense when she set out to realise her project of a Free School in Austria. For both of us realising our lives destinies was only possible through the combination of Orient and Occident. We were not only connected through our goals but also the way that leads to the future of mankind. Elisabeth has worked for SEKEM and specifically for the new Heliopolis University in her own way. The SEKEM Foundation has decided to inaugurate a department for East-West-Relations at the new institution that will bear the name of Elisabeth Gergely. It would like to honour her work for furthering the East-West dialogue that has always been close to her heart. In the future it will be connected to her name. Elisabeth Gergely Students from the global West shall be enabled to get to know more about the cultures of the East and young researchers from the East shall be able to familiarize themselves with the culture of the global West. In was in this sense that Elisabeth often quoted Goethe s famous phrase: Tolerance should only be a passing trait. She must lead to acknowledgement. Accepting means insulting. In her manuscript Education to Freedom Education for Community she quotes Mohamed Iqbal on the first page: Im Westen ist des Lebens Grund Vernunft / Im Osten ist das Weltgeheimnis Liebe / Schließt Liebe sich zusammen mit Vernunft / Wird sie der Bildner einer neuen Welt. When Elisabeth came to SEKEM in January, we felt honoured that she had decided to connect her own future to the SEKEM idea. Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish SEKEM Insight March 2010 Page 6

7 Kurznachrichten Deutsch-indische Konferenz zu Nachhaltigkeitsforschung Vor 150 ausgewählten Teilnehmern der 3. Indisch- Deutschen Konferenz für Nachhaltigkeitsforschung in Neu Delhi präsentierte Prof. Karl-Ulrich Rudolph von der Universität Witten/ Herdecke ganzheitliche Wasser- und Abwasserlösungen für die 1,2 Mrd. Menschen in Indien. Das Institut für Umwelttechnik und Management der Universität Witten/Herdecke (IEEM) ist offizieller Kooperationspartner der Vereinten Nationen im Bereich des internationalen Wassermanagements. Die Tagung mit dem Schwerpunkt Wasser- und Abfalltechnik hatte das deutsche Forschungsministerium zusammen mit indischen Partnern organisiert. Für das Bundesforschungsministerium wies Dr. Rolf Junker auf den hohen Stellenwert hin, den die Nachhaltigkeitsforschung und internationale Kooperation für die Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft in Deutschland genießt, Indien sei ein bedeutender Partner in dieser Kooperation. Prof. Dr. A. K. Gosain vom IIT, dem Indischen Institut für Technologien, erläuterte den enormen Bedarf seines wachsenden Landes für ganzheitliche Lösungen in der Wasserund Abfalltechnik. Für die deutsche Delegation referierte Herr Prof. Karl-Ulrich über den Forschungsstand bei Wassertechnik und management. Von HighTech Maschinen für das Wasserrecycling bis hin zu kostengünstigen Abwasserteichsystemen und dezentralen Anlagen für den ländlichen Raum gibt es viel, was in Deutschland erfunden und für Indien gebaut und umgebaut werden könnte. Über die Forschung im Abfallmanagement - von der Nachbehandlung zur nachhaltigen Lösung - sprach Prof. Dr. Martin Kranert von der Universität Stuttgart. Die Wissenschaftler aus Deutschland und Indien erstellten eine Liste von möglichen Aktionsfeldern für die gemeinsame Forschung beider Partnerländer, die zur Entwicklung nachhaltiger Lösungen beitragen kann. Neben HighTech Anlagen geht es dabei vor allem um Lösungen, die dauerhaft funktionieren und mit einem umfassenden Betriebsund Wartungskonzept ausgestattet sind. So zum Beispiel für die Wertstoffrückgewinnung aus Abfall oder für Biogaskraftwerke die aus Klärschlamm Strom erzeugen. Einen Höhepunkt der Veranstaltung bildete die Begrüßung der Delegation durch Bundespräsident Horst Köhler und seine Gattin. ISIS präsentiert neue Produkte auf der GulFood NNA Vom 21. bis 24. Februar präsentierte SEKEMs Firma ISIS eine breite Palette biologischer Produkte anlässlich der international bekannten Lebensmittelmesse GulFood in Dubai. Die Messe gilt mit ihrem begleitenden Fachprogramm als wichtigste Handelsmesse im Mittleren Osten und zählt Produzenten von Lebensmitteln, Getränken und Inhaltsstoffen zu ihren Ausstellern. Das Programm umfasst ebenfalls den überregional bekannten Salon Culinaire anlässlich dessen mehr als junge Küchenchefs um den Titel der Emirates Culinary Guild streiten. Mehr als Fachbesucher besuchen im Schnitt die Stände der rund Aussteller um sich über die neuesten Produkte und Trends des Sektors zu informieren. ISIS war in diesem Jahr Teil des ägyptischen Standes, welcher aufgrund seiner besonderen Gestaltung und einem herausragenden Promotion-Paket der Egyptian Exporters Association Besucher besonders zahlreich anzog. Wir waren außerordentlich positiv überrascht was die Anzahl und die Professionalität der Besucher betrifft, die unseren Stand besuchten sagt Dr. Iman Dawood, Export Manager von ISIS. Sie vertrat die Firma auch auf der Messe. Biologische Lebensmittel stellen mit Sicherheit einen Wachstumsbereich in den arabischen Märkten dar und die Besucher waren daher sehr daran interessiert zu erfahren, dass sie qualitativ hochwertige Produkte immer mehr auch direkt von arabischen Produzenten und nicht nur von europäischen oder amerikanischen Herstellern erwerben können. Das ISIS-Verkaufsteam hat die Gelegenheit genutzt neue Kontakte zu knüpfen, Kunden aus arabischen Ländern zu treffen und freut sich auf die bevorstehende Verkaufssaison. Herausgeber v.i.s.d.p.: SEKEM, Egypt Die Redaktion von SEKEM Insight dankt allen Korrespondenten, die an dieser Ausgabe mitgewirkt haben. Redakteure: Christina Boecker Bijan Kafi Kontakt: SEKEM-Insight c/o SEKEM Holding P.O.Box 2834, El Horreya, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt Bildnachweis: 2r, 5: Bijan Kafi; 1, 2l, 6, 7: SEKEM; 3: Egyptian Junior Businessmen SEKEM Insight March 2010 Page 7