On the land of Egypt, the largest plant in the world to produce palm seedlings of the luxurious types required for export will be launched this month, with a capacity of one million seedlings annually. date palms”, affiliated with the Agricultural Research Center, to increase its production capacities as well, despite the weak capabilities.
This coincides with the expansion projects launched by the state for palm cultivation, which include planting 5 million palm trees in Toshka, East Oweinat and New Valley, in the coming years.
The “Academy of Scientific Research” and the “Institute of Food Technology” are leading a pioneering experiment to benefit from the thousands of wasted tons of our dates in solving the problems of malnutrition and “anemia”, which the Egyptians suffer from, by using dates as a substitute for sugar in many food products, and this is the experiment that awaits The application is widespread, and it is a model for the benefit that Egypt can achieve from this “blessed tree”.
The largest factory in the Middle East is preparing to launch with a capacity of one million seedlings annually
About a year ago, the young engineer Anas Salem Salama was looking for palm seedlings to plant on his father’s land – brother of the late writer Salama Ahmed Salama – at the Ahmed Orabi Association in Obour City, but he knew that Egypt does not produce palm seedlings by modern scientific methods, which the developed world is now following, Known as “tissue culture”, he had to import it from France, the first and most distinguished country in the production of palm seedlings in this way, so he traveled there for this purpose.
In Paris, the engineer, who studied business administration at the American University, asked himself: Why does Egypt not produce palm seedlings by itself? And why should it import it from abroad as well, even though it is the first country in the world in terms of the number of palm trees and the quantities of dates produced? Does it not deserve to also enter this field and produce its own palms using modern methods?
The young businessman did not return from the European country until after he signed a memorandum of understanding with one of the two largest companies in France and the whole world to produce palm seedlings by the method of tissue culture, and with the best scientific technology (organogenesis technology) in order to establish a laboratory on the land of Egypt to produce palm seedlings by following this technology , in partnership with this company, with investments estimated at 300 million pounds, and it is the factory located in Obour City, which is scheduled to actually start work within days.
Managing Director: What we will produce in a “tissue culture” method in a year is equal to what can be produced within 10 years from 16 thousand acres, and the new varieties will resist diseases
And the production of palm seedlings by the method of tissue culture, according to experts in this field, is the best method that the world relies on now, to produce large numbers of seedlings in a short period of time and a small spatial space, while ensuring good genetic traits that match the same characteristics of the mother palm. The same is to be produced through the “organ reproduction” technique, in addition to being free of diseases and resistance to them, compared to the old traditional methods, which depend on “offshoots”, which grow next to the mother palm.
Salama compares the two methods, for example, explaining that while the capacity of their new laboratory will be one million seedlings annually through tissue culture, in an area not exceeding 6000 square meters, which is the area of the laboratory and the greenhouses attached to it, the production of such a number by the seedling method requires An area of 16,600 acres, within 10 years.
Salama: I traveled to buy seedlings from France and promised a memorandum of understanding to establish a factory to produce them locally.
Dr. Mohamed Abdel Salam Gabr, Director of the Horticultural Research Institute, head of the Tissue Culture Committee at the Ministry of Agriculture, which is the committee concerned with issuing permits for tissue culture laboratories in Egypt, which has already granted the license to the laboratory, confirms that this laboratory, which is scheduled to officially start work within days, is the largest in the world. The Middle East, and that it outperforms the laboratories that follow the same technology, which are in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, and it will be “an honorable thing for Egypt.”
Gabr stresses that the method used by the new plant to produce seedlings through tissue culture is effective in multiplying plants that are difficult to multiply, including palms, as it leads to the production of plants in large numbers in a small, easy-to-control place, which is the lab. It also produces virus-free seedlings. It is the black and red palm weevil, which is transmitted through the shoots, and threatens palm cultivation in the world.
This is also confirmed by Dr. Said Khalil, Head of the Department of Genetic Transformation and Gene Transfer at the Genetic Engineering Research Institute at the Agricultural Research Center, and the scientific advisor to the new Egyptian laboratory, who indicates that the new laboratory will be distinguished in terms of scientific capabilities and equipment and the ability to produce high-quality varieties required for export, such as scheduled Al-Barhi and Ajwa Al-Madina, using the best techniques that produce tissue-palm seedlings identical to the mothers, without any significant genetic variations.
The importance of the above may also appear, according to what Khalil indicates, if we know that “Egypt, which owns 15 million and 556 thousand palm trees, represents 18% of the world palm number, and occupies the first place in the production of dates worldwide with one million and 560 thousand tons annually. We export about 1% of them annually at a price ranging between 800 and 1000 dollars, all from Siwa Oasis, due to the low quality of the cultivated items and the lack of global demand for them, unlike Tunisia, for example, which produces only 300 thousand tons of dates, most of which are exported by 256 thousand tons , by 78%, at prices ranging between 8 and 10 thousand dollars per ton.
Director of Horticultural Research: It will outperform the laboratories of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE
The importance of the new plant also increases with its large production capacity, according to its scientific advisor, who previously held the position of advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture, in light of the upcoming climate changes until 2050, which will increase the Earth’s temperature at a rate of one and a half degrees Celsius, making the date palm a suitable crop for growth. In Egypt, it is even more productive compared to many other crops, and it forces us to plant more than 7.5 million palm trees during the next five years, to expand its cultivation, in addition to replacing and renewing some of the unknown or low-value varieties already cultivated. During Al-Watan’s visit to the laboratory, as the first media outlet to be unique in the news and the visit, the construction phase was already over, as it looked like operating rooms in hospitals, and its walls and floors, according to the project’s scientific advisor, were: “made of anti-bacterial and anti-fungal materials, which is the case. Which is a must in tissue culture laboratories,” while it was scheduled to install the devices, 90% of which arrived from Europe within days.
Khalil says: The largest French company specialized in designing laboratories, whose name is STADER, is the one that designed the laboratory, and therefore every centimeter in the laboratory has specifications, starting with washing and sterilization areas, changing rooms, and even rooms designated for plant growth, passing through devices Equipment for controlling lighting, temperature, humidity, pressure…etc.
For example, the “lighting headlights installed in the lab, whose price alone exceeds 36,000 euros for each room, provides the latest lighting used in the science of LED tissue culture in that it simulates the natural lighting necessary to complete the process of photosynthesis in plants, with the aim of accelerating the process of photosynthesis in plants, with the aim of accelerating The growth process, which gives 8 areas of “spectrum rays” of lighting at one time, which was studied and applied in the International Laboratory for Agricultural Research and Development in France, and it was the outcome of 15 years of research on lighting to speed up the production process.”
In a large hall almost in the middle of the lab, Dr. Saeed Khalil indicated that it is dedicated to 50 devices for cutting and multiplying plants, called “Lamner Flow” or “bacterial isolation cabins”, with a so-called “HEPA filter” to sterilize the air inside, and it does not allow the passage of germs At a rate of 0.2 microliter, that is, it does not allow the passage of the least germ, which is necessary to produce healthy seedlings free of diseases, not to mention that the air inside the laboratory is filtered.
The safety standards in the lab are not limited to this point, as “Khalil” asserts. Once the plant actually starts operating, “You and I will not know how to enter, and window workers can only spit out from outside, and it is impossible for Adam’s sons without workers to enter, except in an area It is limited, from which visitors can see from the outside through a glass wall that was specially designed for this purpose to reduce the process of microbial contamination inside the laboratory, after passing through a buffer zone through which the microbes stuck to the clothes are removed.”
As for the rooms designated for the growth of plants inside the laboratory, which are called GROWTH ROOMs, which can be compared to “incubators”, there are 9 rooms.
The laboratory, according to its scientific advisor, seeks to eliminate the problems that the palm tissue culture factories have experienced abroad, including those in England, Israel and Saudi Arabia, by creating an independent unit in partnership with the French International Laboratory IRD to conduct genetic fingerprint analyzes for all seedlings produced in The laboratory is to monitor all production stages, and maintain them through a special laboratory called R&D and technology called ISSR to ensure that the genetic fingerprint of the produced offspring compared to the original mothers.
Genetic differences, according to Khalil, occur in most laboratories that follow the technique of embryo reproduction in palm tissue culture, and lawsuits have been filed against them worldwide, because of their production of plants that do not match the original variety, and with the beginning of their fruition after 5 years of cultivation, it became clear that It has great differences from the mother plant, a problem that appears in the palm more than any other plant.
The French Agricultural Research Center plays the role of a scientific advisor to the new laboratory, and will take over the issue of quality control in the laboratory and updating the work regulations inside it, every three months. On the part of those in charge of the laboratory, to introduce the “Institute of Genetic Engineering”, affiliated with the Egyptian Agricultural Research Center, as a partner in this part, with a share of the proceeds as well.
And attached to the laboratory from the outside are 3 large greenhouses, which are still being worked on to put the final touches on them. They are called acclimatization greenhouses, where the seedlings, after leaving the factory, adapt to the external environment, and there are temperature and humidity sensors that separate automatically to adjust the temperature at 26 degrees Celsius all the time. After a period of time, the seedlings are transferred to another plant called Hardening, where they are then ready for marketing. Here, Eng. Anas Salem, Managing Director of the company that owns the plant, returns and explains that one of the advantages of having this plant on the land of Egypt, besides the quality of the produced seedlings and the follow-up of production by specialized engineers after planting the seedlings in the permanent farms, is that the prices of palm seedlings inside the country will decrease compared to the imported luxury seedlings. Which is imported at about 50 euros, and is sold here for between 1500 and 1800 pounds, indicating that the prices of luxurious seedlings produced from the factory will be less than any price in the market, and will be less than 1000 pounds.
But in addition to serving the local needs, which the plant’s organizers consider a “priority”, it is expected to represent a significant addition in the export side, as “the French partners, who already have old customers, intend that the new plant will be a center for the export of palm seedlings to Africa and Asia, starting from Egypt, and requests in this regard have already been received by the laboratory, including requests from India, although they have not yet been decided upon,” says Anas.
It is also surprising that the new laboratory, although it was established mainly for the production of palm seedlings, will not be limited to that, according to Dr. Others will be led by potatoes, which are the second crop exported by Egypt after citrus, yet we import its entire seeds from abroad at a rate of 156 thousand tons of seeds annually, which is partly due to the recent increase in potato prices, and the plant operators consider it a “danger to the The next generations”. “Khalil” reveals that the production of “potato seeds” using tissue culture locally, as well as that it will spare Egypt from importing, will increase the productivity of the feddan, which now does not exceed 15 tons annually, to reach between 23 and 28 tons per feddan, which will make its cultivation Profitable for the farmer, and necessarily leads to lower prices in the market.
As for the actual start dates of the lab’s work, his scientific advisor explains that after the installation of the devices is completed, at the end of last June, a test will be carried out by the French partner, then sterilized and closed for 15 days, pending the arrival of a private plane from France carrying “the seedlings of the buds that were It was established in the French laboratory about 18 months ago, and which was prepared in “jars” designated for this purpose in a tissue culture method, in order to speed up the production process locally at the beginning only, and by next March the factory will have started operating at full capacity, and its production of palm seedlings will be available Inside “towards regionalization”.
Thus, Egypt enters the era of producing palm seedlings using tissue culture at the commercial and export levels, to become, as Khalil asserts, one of only 10 countries in the world that produces and exports palm seedlings in this way, after it was the largest importer of palm seedlings using tissue culture.