BY FEDERICO VERGARI 11 JANUARY 2018 AGRICULTURE
NATURAL REGENERATION: HISTORY OF ERITREA
A NATURAL REGENERATION COMPANY THAT HAS LED TO THE CREATION OF 800 JOBS, PROVIDING MONEY TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE, BUT ALSO DEVELOPING NEW USEFUL SKILLS AND AN ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET
Since achieving independence in 1991, Eritrea has experienced many social and economic upheavals. The position of the young country in a very arid part of the Horn of Africa, with high temperatures, low rainfall and poor soil conditions, makes it very difficult to grow food crops or any type of agriculture. However, between 1998 and 2003, a new type of farm developed in this hot and dry corner of the continent, which could be a model for the economic, environmental and social revitalization of many other similar climate zones around the world. . This is a story about how human intelligence and nature combined to create natural regeneration in a place where previously only sand, sea water and sunlight existed.
Natural regeneration: the salvation of the country from the sea
Aquaculture is a difficult model but has given important results in the natural regeneration of the country. The approach to this technique produces direct benefits in the form of proteins and plants for local consumption and income generation ; but above all it revitalizes the environment and creates favorable conditions for further economic activities.
Eritrea and natural regeneration, how does the model work?
The system starts from a canal: it starts by digging a channel that allows the sea to "penetrate" like a fine salt river inside the desert. In the example we are telling you about, there are almost 300 tanks that are used to grow white prawns and Indian prawns. The tanks are clad in concrete to minimize salt water infiltration avoiding contamination of the freshwater aquifer. The rich flow of nutrients from the shrimp breeding then goes to a fish farm where species such as tilapia and molluscs are grown, both excellent for trading in local markets.
Salicornia and animal habitat
The next phase consists in feeding a large salicornia plantation (also called "sea asparagus"). The final phase of the water cycle is a large coastal wetland, which constitutes a habitat and a migration stop for over 200 species of birds and many other animals. Now the water has been cleaned of any harmful potential nutrients and can safely return to the sea.
The list of advantages associated with the integrated production of seawater is remarkable
In economic terms: at the peak of production, one ton of products are exported to Europe every week. Fish ponds provide meat both for export and for the local market, and mangroves produce over 10 tons of stems per hectare that can be used for construction material and firewood and 18 tons of leaves that can be used for animal feed. Mangroves also create a habitat for bees that in turn produce honey that generates profits.
Social benefits are just as significant
This natural regeneration enterprise has led to the creation of 800 jobs , providing money to improve the quality of life, but also by developing new useful skills and an entrepreneurial mindset. A women's cooperative emerged from the mangrove cultivation operation and included a high percentage of widows, an often marginalized group that faces challenges and even discrimination in poor societies. The cooperative has been trained in forest management and honey production, giving them new skills that lead to self-sufficiency and more safety in the future.
The environmental benefits are perceived both locally and globally: locally the climate cools and the humidity increases; new habitats lead to increased biodiversity and root networks create fertile soil, increase water storage and stabilize soil mass by reducing losses through wind blowing erosion. Globally, the farm acts as a valuable carbon sink by absorbing emissions of human origin!