The grass became greener on hundreds of rooftops in Egypt thanks to Schaduf, an organization that provides green urban solutions that elevate the quality of life through environmental and social change. The idea was simple: grow food on rooftops of people with minimum income! Schaduf was founded by two brothers, Sherif and Tarek Hosny, after volunteering on a farm in Louisiana in 2010. They have always been interested in plants and their curiosity about nature led them to trips to Ethiopia and Rwanda. What started with a small-scale rooftop-farming endeavor has quickly evolved into a major design and technology hub with innovations in landscape architecture, farming, vertical gardening, and a variety of sustainability driven products and services across the Middle East and Africa. We’ve met Sherif to know more about their outstanding organization.
1. The balance between environmentally friendly products and profit maintenance is not easy, how do you manage to handle that?
We wanted to establish a business not a non-governmental organization in order to be independent of donations so we can establish what we really want. Hence, we picked rooftop farming which is very environmentally friendly and falls directly under our cause. You simply clean your roof and produce fresh products that can either be eaten or sold. We think of the profit of course too because it’s how we can continue. So, it’s a business that has so many environmental and social goals, including maintaining profit to continue.
2. You work on relatively small lands, what kind of products do you produce?
We farm leaves products such as lettuce, spinach, rocca, and so forth. It’s the most products that we plant since it does not require a lot of space. We use irrigation that preserves the excess use of water and preserves space. In the same land, we can produce the double or triple of its normal production rate.
3. How do you manage to maintain your production rate without using pesticides?
It’s something that we thought a lot about. How to produce clean, safe and healthy products. We learned about an international irrigation method called organic agriculture. People try to plant without using chemicals, and use secret mixtures such as vinegar, garlic, chili and more homemade methods instead. We also use artificial stuff but without harmful chemicals.
4. What kind of challenges have you faced to launch your organization? And what kind of challenges do you face until this very day?
Our challenges are mainly like any other company, we need profit to continue. Our project is different so we spent some time convincing people with our ideas like farming rooftops or building green walls. If we look at Cairo, we’ll find that it’s a city full of buildings without much greenery. We use the space of these walls to plant. Convincing people with this is challenging at first, but when they later see the success of the ideas, it becomes easier.
5. Why do you think it is important to have products of this type in Egypt?
It’s crucial because our rooftops are not used, we can make use of them and enhance the quality of food without harmful chemicals to the humans, elevate people’s income, and increase the greenery that we lack in the cities. Being in green sights is vital for people’s psychological state.
6. What do you think of the agriculture field in Egypt and how do you think we can improve it?
It’s a very important field, it is considered 15% of the country’s national income. Yet, a lot of people in the field are working with the same traditional tools. His life is similar to peasants in ancient times. Only 20% moved towards the more modern methods which we all should get directed to. We should think of irrigation ways that do not waste water, or use pesticides and other environmentally harmful methods.
7. Are there any other projects that you’re working on?
We care about the modern irrigation with machinery, high accuracy and temperature. We’re currently working on a project for this.
8. How many families were impacted by your projects?
We’re currently working on a project in Helwan for about 500 families. Last year we executed about 200 units. In the next two years, we will deliver another 300.
9. What kind of psychological impact does your project have?
There’re a lot of impacts. For instance, some mothers also like that their sons start playing on the roof instead of the street. In addition to the primary impact, which is to elevate their income and decreases the daily pressures.
Checkout their Website through https://schaduf.com/