People work in one of the sorting and packaging facilities attached to the greenhouses in a large joint project in northeast of the Egyptian capital Cairo on March 25, 2019. China's greenhouse technologies are currently boosting the development of Egypt's modern agriculture through the construction of hundreds of greenhouses. The technologies are used in a large joint project northeast of the Egyptian capital Cairo, said the Chinese project manager in an interview with Xinhua. (Xinhua/Wu Huiwo)
by Zhao Jiasong, Mahmoud Fouly
SHARQIYA, Egypt, April 10 (Xinhua) -- China's greenhouse technologies are currently boosting the development of Egypt's modern agriculture through the construction of hundreds of greenhouses.
The technologies are used in a large joint project northeast of the Egyptian capital Cairo, said the Chinese project manager in an interview with Xinhua.
"Over the past two years, we have been constructing 600 greenhouses that gradually turned 1,000 hectares of desert land into a green world of fresh fruits and vegetables in the 10th of Ramadan City, some 90 km northeast of Cairo," said Zhang Lin, the project manager from China SINOMACH Heavy Industry Corporation (SINOMACH-HI).
In May 2017, a contract for the modern agricultural greenhouse joint project, worth 400 million U.S. dollars, was signed between China and Egypt to mark a new stage of agricultural cooperation between the two sides and a milestone in the development of Egypt's modern agriculture.
"SINOMACH-HI started here with only 10 technicians to guide the installment work until the number increased to more than 50 during the process," Zhang told Xinhua at a greenhouse as vast as a soccer field in the remote city.
"Now the installment work is almost done, so we're still keeping 30 Chinese technicians to help the Egyptian colleagues complete the work on the scene," he explained.
In early 2016, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi proposed further development of modern facility agriculture in Egypt, urging for a large-scale plantation of greenhouse fruits and vegetables.
Soon after the initiative, SINOMACH-HI came to Egypt with advanced technologies.
"We started the construction of 600 greenhouses with service areas and sorting and packaging storage facilities at the site of the 10th of the Ramadan City in October 2017," said the Chinese project manager.
In December 2018, Sisi and SINOMACH-HI general manager Wang Weiyan attended the inauguration of the project in the 10th of Ramadan City in Sharqiya province as part of a massive greenhouse national project in Egypt.
According to Zhang, the planting and other relevant operations started in most greenhouses after the inauguration of the project in late 2018.
He explained that technicians from SINOMACH-HI and Chinese greenhouse manufacturing firms guided the Egyptian workers in the installment process at the construction site, noting that the installment material weighted about 550,000 tons.
"The construction material and the technical support are all brought from China," Zhang pointed out.
Driving on the spacious and clean highway leading to the project park, the greenhouses can be seen neatly arranged on the roadside, with a surface reflection of the green color inside.
"The greenhouses here produce tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and beans, 15 percent of which is exported to neighboring countries after meeting the domestic market demand in Egypt," he said.
There are sorting and packaging facilities attached to the greenhouses where groups of Egyptian women do the job smoothly and in accordance with international standards.
"Besides the packaging workers, each greenhouse has from six to eight personnel for daily operation and maintenance, and the number increases in the plantation seasons of different crops," Zhang noted, adding that the project in the 10th of Ramadan City can provide about 6,000 job opportunities.
He said that the project goes in line with China's Belt and Road Initiative that seeks joint development through win-win cooperation and partnership.
Under SINOMACH-HI's modern agricultural greenhouse project in Egypt, another set of 2,350 greenhouses are currently being constructed on an area of 3,900 hectares in Abu Sultan village of Egypt's northeastern province of Ismailia, according to the Chinese project manager.
"Hence, there will be altogether 2,950 greenhouses at the two sites after the construction in Abu Sultan is completed, which can provide 30,000 job opportunities to Egyptians and turn about 45 square km of Egyptian desert green," Zhang said.