The World Food Organisation provide a monthly basket to every family depending on how many members in each one like for example myself we’re a family of three we get a kilogram of rice, flour, lentils (lately they stopped),oil, yeast and soya. Twice a year (they give us two cans of tuna spaghetti) there is a Spanish organization that occasionally gives some vegetables in very small portions (potatoes onions and sometimes carrots) they buy it from Tindouf and then give it to refugees.
Due to the the growing number of refugees in the world, according to the United Nations there are currently 24.5 million, it is becoming increasingly important for the Western Saharan refugees to be able to provide for themselves, Our micro-cultures (small family gardens and projects) are a response, a small local solution, a complement to the already poor and declining share that the international organizations are distributing but they don’t come close to providing for all the needs of the people. A joint UN study concluded that almost two thirds of the women suffer from anaemia and one out every three children under five suffers from chronic malnutrition.
So we need to buy vegetables from Tindouf. Everything in Tindouf is very expensive compared to the other parts of Algeria because they know we don’t have any agriculture so we’ll buy from them either way.
This has all led to three brothers starting a project where they bought three large greenhouses and filled them with chicks. With outside financial help from people who truly believed in the idea and by building a well on the same site they have been successful in creating a fully operationally chicken farm and are now selling chicken at prices that truly are reasonable for refugees that aren’t receiving a paycheck at the end of the month. We were used to chicken buy from Tindouf at a cost of 2 euro per kg! Now that we have our own chicken farm we can buy a big 3 or 4kg chicken with 2 Euro.
What the idea is
The success of this chicken farm project was the inspiration for using a similar setup to grow vegetables that can also be sold at prices that reflect the circumstances of the refugees.
Our long term aim is to grow everything that we need in the camps and not be at the mercy of profit driven Algerian farmers nor humanitarian aid because now they’ve already shrunk to half, by tomorrow there might not be any so I want us to have our own small economy to rely on ourselves.
We have electricity; we can dig wells for water; we can improve the soil. We have skilled and qualified people who are keen to be self reliant but due to the circumstances of the refugee status are unable to find work.
The kind of vegetables that grow in environments like ours are warm season vegetables that are most optimal for growing in desert climates may include: Beans, Cucumber, Eggplant Melon Pepper Pumpkin Squash Corn Sweet potato tomato.
Vegetables that are already planted in greenhouses in Tindouf with success: Beets Broccoli Cabbage Carrots Lettuce Onion Pea Potato Radish Spinach Turnips Eggplant Melon Pepper Pumpkin Squash Tomato Parsley Peppermint Almonds Olives
I wish I could grow all this in one greenhouses but that kind of greenhouse is extremely expensive it’s made of glass instead of polyethylene and it’s huge we’ll start with three to four vegetables at first and after every harvest once the employees are paid and the seeds and equipment for the next season are bought we could save money to buy another greenhouse and grow different vegetables and keep expanding until we cover the need of all refugees.
Of course we have tried a lot to plant in the camps some near their tents just to provide for themselves, more serious attempts by our government projects but none of them lasted a long time due to;
our terrible weather (the plants not being protected from wind and extra heat)
Failure to track requirements
Nonprofit (no money to pay staff, repairs, buy what is needed for the next season and most importantly never grow bigger)
Bad management (lack of supervision, management from a distance, no qualified workers)
Lack of financing
Why is this project going to succeed?
- Because we will use a greenhouse Why greenhouse? Longer growing season Grow a wide variety of plants Garden in any weather Protection from pests and predators Create the optimum growing environment Protect plants from bad weather one greenhouse can produce up to 4500 kg of veggies per season and each year we could do two seasons with every greenhouses with the summer season when we could plant melons.
- We will have degree qualified staff with long experience.
- We will have solid management determined to succeed
- We will be selling vegetables at low prices for refugees at the same time profits will be managed between; payment of team members, repairs, buy seeds, pesticides, polyethylene
Expanding (after every three harvests buy a greenhouse until we cover the needs of all refugees)
Initially we aim to dig a well and start with one greenhouse
The estimated costs;
Start up costs
(the cost depends on the square foot) 12000–20000 euro (the size we need will depend on the amount and the kind of plants grown and most importantly the size of greenhouse) We will determine the amount of water needed based on crops grown, weather conditions, time of year and the environment control system. We will adapt low usage irrigation
THE GREENHOUSE – there is a huge difference high quality means bigger better greenhouses double or triple the number of vegetables grow there are low and high end ones 4000–12000 euro depending on the quality we can afford
POLYTHENE (depends on quality) 500–1000 euro quality here means how much time (1 to 4 years max) it would last in our environment 4 –Framing, Concrete, Gravel, Pavers, Seeds 1500–2000 euro
FERTILIZER We will use Chicken Manure for Vegetable Garden Fertilizer. Chicken manure fertilizer is very high in nitrogen and also contains a good amount of potassium and phosphorus. The high nitrogen and balanced nutrients is the reason that chicken manure compost is the best kind of manure to use. That means we would buy them from our local chicken project that way we could help each other. I have spoken to them and they’re really excited about the idea of as providing help for each other. Cost to be negotiated later
SOIL We collect the remains of animal defecations, mix them with herbs and, three months later, we have a natural compost that we apply as organic matter. That way we can improve the soil and improve the plant’s nutrition,”
WAGES of staff per month (three working man and the management team) experienced gardener -150 euro
engineer- 150 euro
head manager-100 euro
secretary- 50 euro
guard- 50 euro
Initially we would grow the following vegetables the actual amounts depending on the size of greenhouse we start with
The 10% left we’ll grow peppermint (we consume huge amounts of it because its used doing tea)
We’ll be able if everything goes as plan to sell all veggies half the price that’s being sold in Tindouf. We’ll make every year about 10000-17000 (according to Tindouf farmers)
6000 euros for staff payments 2000-3000 preparation for next season The money left will be saved until we have enough for another greenhouse”
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