Travel Grant Story – Talis in Egypt

By 15/03/2022Travel scholarship
From the Cold Dutch Clay to the Warm Egyptian Sands
We are proud to share with you the experience of our recent Travel Grant Recipient, Talis Bosma. We are delighted that we were able to be part of Talis’ exciting professional journey in Egypt! Would you also like to benefit from our Travel Grants? Our applications are open all year! Find out more about the application procedure and criteria here.

Hi! My name is Talis from The Netherlands. I’m a 25 year old organic agriculture specialist, aiming to help improve the Egyptian agricultural sector. To be able to do this, I’m a proud participant of the Lutfia Rabbani scholarship program.

Two weeks ago I landed at Cairo airport to take a deep dive into the Egyptian (agri)culture. I came to Egypt after finishing my masters at Wageningen University. Originally it was my plan to go to Egypt in 2021 for an internship, however, because of the COVID situation, this was not possible anymore. Sadly I got the final cancellation just a few weeks before departure, so this was very disappointing. Luckily, I found an alternative in the Netherlands quickly. Via Delphy, a Dutch Agri-consultancy company, I was able to complete my internship while working online on several agricultural projects in amongst others Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. Of course, I was happy to complete my studies this way, but by getting involved in several projects in Egypt, the desire to actually go there even increased.

After finishing university I was thinking about what to do. I got several very attractive well-earning job offers, but decided to do it differently. My desire for adventure, exploring and learning took over. Especially since half of my study time in Wageningen took place in strange COVID circumstances, I felt like this would be the right moment to go to another place and culture and to step into the unknown.

As I still had good contacts with Delphy and their partners in Egypt, it was fairly easy to arrange something. So here I am. Making this introduction underneath the shadow of a tree, looking to the date palms in front of me. My current stay is in the Orabi settlement. This is an agricultural area reclaimed from the desert on the Northern side of Cairo. It’s almost like a green island in between bare desert and the busy suburbs of Cairo.

These past two weeks I’ve been working on agricultural projects about, for example, salinization, beekeeping, improving soil quality, creating new business models for farmers and training of teachers. I participate in projects from Delphy and Demeter Egypt. This is the Egyptian biodynamic association, an organization that supports farmers with converting to organic and biodynamic agriculture. Demeter Egypt is located at the campus of the Heliopolis University in Cairo, so this the base location of my activities. From here I visit farmers and companies across the Nile delta and further. Heliopolis University and Demeter Egypt are founded by Sekem, an agricultural company focussed on sustainable development. They build communities by cultivating crops in reclaimed desert fields, and open schools and companies. A place full of inspiration to learn from.

This is exactly what I’m aiming for in Egypt. Learning from nice initiatives like Sekem and how famers deal with increasing salt problems, which might become a topic in the Netherlands in a few years. In the same time, I try to return knowledge and advice back to farmers via projects as there is still a lot to improve. With this approach of intercultural knowledge exchange, I expect to have a benefit from both sides.

As I will stay in Egypt for at least 6 months, I will keep you updated with experiences and stories!