11 Jan 2016
Cairo, Egypt
Sustainable Construction, Sustainable Food and Agriculture

Schaduf is a fitting name for a company dedicated to installing living walls and small-scale farms across Cairo. The Arabic word was used to describe the irrigation systems in Ancient Egypt, and is today the name of the Egyptian company dedicated to making the country’s capital a little greener.

Brothers Sherif and Tarek Hosny founded the company in 2011 after volunteering on a farm in Louisiana in the United States. Inspired by the ability to grow vegetables in dry climates using the practice of hydroponics, the brothers initially desired to drive social and environmental change in Cairo. Their goal was to help poor families generate income by growing vegetables, teaching them soilless farming techniques and the skills they needed to resell crops at market.

“I have always been very interested in plants and nature in general, then I discovered the microcredit system, which allows people to fund their own projects,” says Tarek. “This is when we had the idea to associate these concepts with the practice of hydroponics, which we had seen in the U.S. and Europe.”

Creating a green city — environmentally and appearance-wise:

Lush, green vegetation is likely not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Cairo. The city’s warm, dry climate and empty rooftop terraces created the perfect environment for a soilless, rooftop agriculture movement to take root.

“Our idea was to build micro-farms on the rooftops so people could grow their own vegetables and sell them for income,” Tarek explains. Schaduf also creates living walls for businesses, shops, and residential buildings, a practice that improves the air quality of the city, and provides valuable natural insulation. In fact, the company has constructed the largest continuous outdoor green wall in Egypt — and possibly in the Middle East.

To the Hosny brothers, creating a green city also means using the most environmentally-friendly agricultural techniques. For them, that means soilless farming.

“We must not forget that traditional agriculture is the main cause of deforestation in the world,” reminds Tarek. “The cold, heat, and lack of rain also make traditional farming impossible in a number of countries, including Egypt. Soilless agriculture is a great alternative, and can allow these countries to be self-sufficient. By growing vegetables on the roof, we generate only positive impact on the Earth.”

Part of Schaduf’s mission is also to educate Egyptians of the role they can play in environmental issues. The company does this through lectures and workshops that aim to make the Earth a priority.

“Of course it’s not easy, but it’s possible,” says Tarek. “The important thing is to be open to the world — you must listen to people and be flexible in your ideas.”


Website: http://schaduf.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/schaduf

Photos: Courtesy of Schaduf

Schaduf Sustainable housing and construction