Ahmed Dakrouri

Citation

This profile was prepared when Ahmed Dakrouri was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Dakrouri is empowering farmers by developing a comprehensive agricultural system that produces international export crops which will dramatically increase farmers’ income and revitalize entire regions. His aim is to transform subsistence level peasants into successful farmers making their own decisions; and as a group about what to grow, how many acres to plant, and what prices to accept.
The first element of his program is to create in collaboration with the farmers, a new and comprehensive agricultural system. New crops for export, such as basil and fennel, and then vegetables will be planted with better seeds and modern production techniques providing much higher productivity and dramatically increased incomes compared to the subsistence income derived today from planting corn and wheat with low yields at low prices. These crops will be harvested and processed to add more value, such as processing dried basil, then extracting oils from crops and ultimately selling completely fresh crops directly to Europe via a continuous cold chain from the Upper Egyptian farm to the German supermarket. By having alliances and contracts with export customers, the profit from the middlemen will go primarily to the farmers with some to their Development Citizen Organization (CO) for social investments in the region.
The second element is to empower farmers to make their own decisions and to take control of their destinies instead of having the government or middlemen tell them what to do. Dakrouri has formed a Farmers’ CO which will include every farmer who participates in the program. The group has begun organizing, acquiring much greater agricultural skills and knowledge through technical courses taught by the farmers with successful experience of the export crops. They are also receive training on the needs and trends of export markets, production and marketing techniques, and organic crops and markets. This is laying the foundation for the Farmers’ CO to decide after a few growing seasons, what crops to grow and how many acres to plant. Earning the trust of each other and their positive track record, the number of farmers and acres planted will grow rapidly over the next five years.
This rapid growth will not only improve the income of each farmer, but will create enough wealth in the region to enable more social and economic investment. Dakrouri has incorporated the eleven-year-old Development CO started by his father into his scheme. This CO already undertakes social programs in the area and will receive additional income from the revenue of the Farmers’ CO—allowing social programs to grow as the overall agricultural program flourishes. They plan to extend their investments to other marginalized farmers, women, and fishermen, while introducing new programs in nutrition, microcredit, and vocational training.
This comprehensive agricultural system has been so successful that it has attracted attention from other groups and agencies. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) wants the Farmers’ CO to train other COs in other regions because the idea of changing an entire, failed system offers far greater prospects for success in Egyptian agriculture than piecemeal efforts to fix the system.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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