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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Randa Fahmy

A Water Energy Agriculture Nexus Approach for Desert Agriculture in the Middle East Directed Towards Identification of Sustainable Integrated Models on Both Deployment and Policy Levels (A Case Study in Egypt)

In  Egypt, desert agriculture offers the advantages of being flexible to demand, location independent, low development cost, and private control as long as groundwater exists in abundance. There are two main challenges:
• There exists a gap in research integrating all aspects of policy, energy, ground water, soil, and agricultural practices;
• There is a lack of centralized, easily accessible data in MENA Region.
Expanding desert agriculture has become an attractive opportunity for an export-oriented market, disintegrated from resource sustainability and national objectives.
This research defines a holistic system for desert agriculture and analyses the relationships between the defined factors identifying
1) sources of inefficiencies
and 2) implications of expected and proposed policy changes.
The defined system allows the user to choose between different design options optimizing sustainability (in terms of groundwater, soil, and energy resource as well as food selfsufficiency), and farm profitability. A system analysis reveals that on the long term desert agriculture will not remain economically feasible primarily because of increased pumping depths, expected increase in energy  costs, and increased water needs due to climate change. The implication of the system complexity is that there exist opportunities for reversing the trends only if a State-Farmer Collaboration Platform is developed solving barriers of long term planning for farmers, and data collection and effective policy change for the state.