About me

Flying over the Amazon in Venezuela
Flying over the Amazon in Venezuela

Jeroen Kuiper is a Dutch tourguide and journalist in Berlin, Germany. From my fifteen years living outside of The Netherlands, I spent eleven years in Germany, two years in Venezuela and two years in Colombia.


I guide visitors on bike and by foot through Berlin. I do this in Dutch, German, English and Spanish.

 

Furthermore, I am writing for Dutch and German newspapers and magazines. I am mainly working in Germany, Eastern Europe and Latin America. My main areas of interest are socio-economical and politicial themes. Furthermore, I focus on environmental and water-related issues.

 

You can read some of my texts about Latin America at www.themedellinoffice.com. Last year, I worked for a.o. Vrij Nederland (NL), De Groene Amsterdammer (NL), VPRO radio (NL), Die Welt (DE), Freitag (DE) and Knack (BE). 

 

In 2009, my first book came out: `Het andere Duitsland. De voormalige DDR 20 jaar na de val van De Muur.´  You can order this book as an e-book at www.uitgeverij-fosfor.nl.

 

Apart from writing, I am also selling high-quality Colombian coffee! Please take a look at www.thecoffeequest.nl or www.coffee-imports.com.

 

If you have any questions, just contact me at mail ( a ) jeroenkuiper.net!

Me, during a trip to Egypt
Me, during a trip to Egypt

Thu

27

Feb

2014

Tanja Nijmeijer in Cuba

Last December, I had the unique opportunity to interview the Dutch member of the FARC guerrilla army Tanja Nijmeijer in the Cuban capital of Havana, where Nijmeijer is participating in the peace negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government. You can read the interview in Dutch and German here.

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Thu

19

Apr

2012

Medellin, a real comeback city?

The metrocable in Medellin
The metrocable in Medellin

People hearing that you live in Medellin usually either think you`re insane, very brave, having a death wish or a combination of the three. People who inform themselves a little bit better then usually read stories raving about Medellin´s revival, the city rising from the ashes and now being one of the best places on earth to live, with a perfect climate, hard working people, skyrocketing real estate prices and a generally safe environment. The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle, and the fight about the image of Medellin towards the outside world is currently being fought with passion.

 

Like during last week, for example.

 

The `fight` started with a very long feature in Spain`s respected daily newspaper El Pais. According to the story, despite the death of Pablo Escobar in 1993 and the falling apart of the infamous Medellin cartel, the city still has huge problems with hundreds of drug gangs and more than 5.000 sicarios who are ready to kill for prices as low as 5.000 Pesos (a little more than 2 Euro).

 

Medellin`s local newspaper El Colombiano was upset by the numbers and the quotes in El Pais and started a `we-are-proud-of-Medellin-and-you foreigners-do-not-know-what you-are-writing-about´ action. With success: within a day, several high-ranking officials stated they did not `recognise` themselves in the story by El Pais. Medellin`s Mayor Gaviría even wrote a letter to the editor of El Pais, complaining about the unclear sources of the article.

 

Just as the dust seemed to settle down, the next negative feature about Medellin appeared, this time in British daily The Guardian, asking itself whether Medellin is `on the brink of a new drug war`. Again the reactions from official sides were strong.

 

So who is right? Of course both sides are. Medellin is without doubt a much safer place than twenty years ago, when murder rates reached an all-time high of 381 per 100.000 inhabitants in 1991, making it the murder capital of the world. By 2007, these numbers had dropped by roughly 90% to 34 murders per 100.000 inhabitants. Over the last years though, murder rates have been on the increase again, due to increased fighting between drug gangs.

 

So can we speak of a revival of Medellin? Yes we can, but it`s an unfinished one.

 

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Tue

17

Apr

2012

Sex scandal, the real news?

US President Obama with Colombian President Santos
US President Obama with Colombian President Santos

 

Funny how media work. Last weekend, more than 30 heads of state from North- and South America gathered in the Colombian city of Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas, to discuss issues such as economic cooperation between the American countries, concretized by agreements between the USA, Colombia and Peru on a Free Trade Agreement (TLC), which will start from the 15th of May.

 

Another very important topic during the Summit, though officially not on the agenda, was the discussion about legalization of drugs. For most Central and South American countries, it is clear that the current policy of prohibiting the use of drugs just doesn`t work, as can be seen in countries like Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador, where complete drug wars are fought between police, drug traffickers and the army. Although the United States continue to be against any legalization of drug use, the American leaders unanimously decided to set up a new regional anti-crime body. Further, they commissoned a study on drug policy by the Organization of American States (OAS), which can be seen as important result of the Summit, especially if one realises that the drug topic officially was not even on the agenda.

 

Another remarkable fact was that with the exception of the United States and Canada, all other participating countries stated their objection to exclude Cuba from future Summits. Because the heads of state could not reach a consensus on this issue, they refused to sign a final joint declaration.

 

Nonetheless, important issues were being discussed in Cartagena. But none of that made it to the newspapers, websites, radiostations and television programmes in Europe. The only thing that interested mainstream media were a few US Secret Service agents who invited prostitutes into their hotel rooms. Very important news, indeed... 

 

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Fri

13

Apr

2012

The FARC is moving

FARC rebels
FARC rebels

MEDELLIN - New times in Colombia? After having deceptioned the Colombian people time after time during the past decade with unfulfilled promises, this time the relieve was as great as it could be, after the FARC kept its promise this time: it released its ten last `political prisoners`. Some of the four soldiers and six policenmen had been held for more than twelve years in the jungle. Some of them had been chained to eachtother for several years already. Not only did the rebels on rubber boots release these ten prisoners, they recently also announced that in future they will refrain from taking people hostage as a means of finacing their `revolutionary fight`.

 

The FARC moves come at a moment that the organisation is under fierce fire. Over the last weeks, the Colombian army killed almost seventy rebels during several attacks in different parts of the country. She uncovered FARC camps in Panama, disclosed weapon arsenals and celebrated the death of several mid-level FARC commanders. Although nobody knows the exact figures, specialists estimate that the numbers of FARC rebels decreased by half during the past decade, to roughly 8.000 persons under arms nowadays. Above all this, the FARC lost almost all of its long-time leading commanders from the secretariat, the highest FARC gremium. They were killed by the Colombian army one by one during the past years. By far the biggest part of the Colombian population is fed up by the FARC, which says to by fighting for a socialist state since 1964.

 

Colombian President Santos called the moves by the FARC ´important steps in the right direction`. He added however that these steps were `not enough`. As soon as the FARC would be sending `clear and serious signals` of a `sincere will to peace`, Santos would be willing to participate in peace negotiations personally. Before Colombia gets that far, however, there are still thousands of Colombians waiting for a sign of life of the several hundreds of civilians held hostage by the FARC. The last –failed- peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC date back to 2002. 

 

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Mon

23

Jan

2012

Moving to Colombia

One week to go: on January 31st, I will leave for Medellin, Colombia, together with my family, where we will live for at least two years. I will write regularly from Colombia and surrounding countries, but first we will have to settle down there. In the attached article, you can read more about it (in German).

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Tue

17

Jan

2012

Romanian gold

Gold prices are high, and gold reserves in the Romanian Apuseni mountains are big. No wonder that a Canadian company, worldwide shareholders and the Romamanian government would like to explore these reserves. The only problem: the gold mine would destroy cultural heritage, devastate a beautiful lanscape and frustrate efforts to develop small-scale eco-tourism in the region. Read more about it (on page 9, in German) in the attached article.

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Fri

06

Jan

2012

Dutch chickens in Poland

Dutch farmers move everywhere. To Poland, for instance, where this Dutch farmer manages hundreds of thousands of chickens....

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Tue

03

Jan

2012

Dutch sprouts in Germany

Eastern Germany offers many opportunities to Dutch farmers: good soils, a lot of space and a well-qualified, relatively cheap labour force. Here`s a story (in Dutch) of some happily migrated Dutch people on the German East Sea-coast, producing sprouts. 

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Thu

29

Sep

2011

Poland, Germany, Ethiopia

Today you`ll find stories by me about the upcoming elections (on October 9th) and the robust state of the Polish economy in De Groene Amsterdammer, as well as a story about the German Pirate Party, which did well during the local elections in Berlin two weeks ago.

 

In the Dutch daily newspaper De Pers, today you`ll find a feature on land grabbing in Ethiopia. Here`s a link; take a look at page six.

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Mon

26

Sep

2011

Nile and Colorado in Le Monde

The weekend magazine of French newspaper Le Monde published three stories produced by www.disputedwaters.com, a journalism project in which I am involved as well.

 

Here you find a link to the stories I made about the Colorado and the Nile, together whith some photographer colleagues. These are my first publications in French!

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Fri

23

Sep

2011

Land grabbing in Ethiopia

Indian farmer in Ethiopia
Indian farmer in Ethiopia

Have you ever heard of land grabbing? Well, if not, you can read all about it  in my feature in this week`s German weekly Freitag, which means, you will have to read the text in German. You can find it at page 9.

 

Last August, I visited Ethiopia, which seems to be the world-wide centre of land grabbing. Mainly Asian companies, for instance from India, South Korea and Saoudi Arabia are buying up huge pieces of land for really small sums, in order to ´develop´ these lands for soy-, rice-, palmoil-, or seed production, usually mainly for export. The local population often has very few benefits of this land grabbing.

 

In a remote western part of Ethiopia, I talked to the Indian multinational Karuturi PLC from Bangalore, which is developing a huge rice farm over there - but the company has its fair share of problems, because the local cattle herdsmen are against the Indian company. Well, you can read about it yourself....

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Thu

30

Jun

2011

Leaving Macedonia - and coming back

During the last years, thousands of Roma left Macedonia in search for a better life in North-Western Europe. All of those Roma who applied for political asylum have been sent back, though, by Dutch, German, Belgian and Swedish authorities. The European Commission even threatened to turn back the visa-free status for all Macedonians and Serbians, which is in place since the end of 2009. 

 

Read more - in German - about the situation of the returned Roma in Macedonia in Freitag, on page 7.

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Tue

21

Jun

2011

Gyöngyöspáta

Police protect Roma in Gyöngyöspáta
Police protect Roma in Gyöngyöspáta

A few weeks ago, extreme right-wing groups terrorised Roma in the Hungarian village of Gyöngyöspáta. The media have left, but the villagers will have to find a way to continue living next to each other.

 

Read my feature about the pure hatred between Roma and Hungarians in different parts in the country. The text is in German - you`ll find it on page 10 of the attached Freitag.

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Sat

04

Jun

2011

Getting to Macedonia

Thessaloniki/Skopje – So close, and still so far away. Try getting to the Macedonian capital Skopje these days from Thessaloniki,. the capital of Greek Macedonia. I did it, today, and it was a classical travellers´ hassle.

 

Greece is undergoing a serious crisis these days. Therefore, the Greek railways suspended all international train departures to Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey at the beginning of this year. I read about it, and foolish as I am, I expected there there would be some sort of alternative transport. A bus, for example. But no way. The Greek railways does not offer any other transport. They do not care either. Nor does KTEL, the Greek state bus company.

 

So if you want to get from Greek Macedonia to Macedonian Macedonia, you´re on yuor own. Good luck! Here`s my travel advice: first take a local bus to Polikastro in Northern Greece. Then take a taxi to the Greek-Macedonian border. Walk across the border. Take a taxi on the Macedonian side to Gevgelija. And then, finally, take a stone-age train to Skopje. All in all, the 260 kilometers will cost something like 40 Euros this way. The trip takes roughly seven hours. Extra bonus: you will immediately have a pretty good impression about the state of unification between the two Macedonias......

 

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Thu

26

May

2011

Dairy farming in Egypt

Dairy farming in Egypt
With a sort-of revolution going on in the country, who`s interested in cows in Egypt? Well, Dutch farmers are. Absurd as it may sound, Egypt is a huge growth market for agriculture, so Dutch farmers want to know how farmers make a living in the Egyptian desert. Read it here, in Dutch.
Melkvee Egypte.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 3.9 MB
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Tue

24

May

2011

Roma-hating Hungarians

Gyöngyöspáta – Hungarians love weird place nanes. They do not love their Roma neighbours, however. `Gypsies are lazy and only want to rely on their social welfare`, Milena Ludanyi told me last week, a pretty woman from the village 80 kilometres east of Budapest. She went even further: `It`s not only the Gypsies who are destryoing our country. The Green Party and the Jews are reposible as well.`

 

She really said it: the Gypsies, the Greens and the Jews are reponsible for all misery in Hungary. Brainwashed? Seen too many Hollywood movies? No, this is nowadays Hungary, and it seems to become even worse. In the countryside, hatred against the Roma has become the norm.

 

`Roma should start working and earning their own money`, is the common opinion of many Hungarians. If you ask them, whether they would employ a Roma, the Hungarian answer is: `No, of course not!`

 

Solving the `Roma issue` will take a lot of time, money and dedication. All of this is lacking in Hungary. Not a good sign for the next years.....

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Tue

26

Apr

2011

Chernobyl, 25 years later

Me at the entrance of Chernobyl
Me at the entrance of Chernobyl

By now we all know it: 25 years ago, a nuclear disaster happened in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Many people thought such a disaster could never take place in a ´highly developed´ capitalist country such as Japan, which is the reason that many people were shocked by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

 

Still, Fukushima is already disappearing from the news headlines.  For pro-nuclear lobbyists, this is the perfect moment to come out of the shade and re-start their lobbying work for nuclerar energy again. A change towards green energy will cost billions and billions, is their message. So far, nobody can really calculate those costs, since politicians did not decide on any major changes yet.

 

The country the farthest ahead in changing its energy policy is Germany. In a remarkable move, the liberal-conservative government in this country stated that it wants to abandon nuclear energy completely. Eight old nuclear power plants have already been switched off since Fukushima. Before, energy producers were warning that this would be impossible, since it would cause energy shortages in Germany. Well, the lights are still burning.

 

Still, the lobbyists are re-emerging, such as the Ukrainian energy Minister, who had the nerve to lobby for nuclear energy during the past days while he his country was hosting an international conference focused on raising money for a new sarcphague for the exploded Chernobyl reactor.

 

Let`s hope German policy will become the European standard and not the Ukrainian policy. Otherwise we should be preparing for another nuclear disaster in the future. Nobody is perfect.    

 

For more stories about nucclear energy from me: www.vuconnected.nl/tsjernobyl.

 

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Fri

08

Apr

2011

Today is International Roma Day

The blue and green of the Roma flag represent heaven and earth. The red wheel represents the itinerant tradition of the Romani people.
The blue and green of the Roma flag represent heaven and earth. The red wheel represents the itinerant tradition of the Romani people.

Did you know this? Fourty years ago, on the 8th of April 1971, Roma from around the world gathered for the first time during a World Congress in London, where they elected a Roma flag and hymn. Since then, the Roma have come a long way.

 

Unfortunately, it took a huge political row last summer in the European Union about the expulsion of France of Roma from their territory, to really put the issue on the political agenda. Finally, the European Commission presented an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, in order improve the situation of the more than ten million Roma within the EU.

 

Education, employment, health and housing are usually the key words. Yes, these issues are very important. But of course we should also really fight the stereotypical images that most of us have about Roma. No, Roma are usually not travelling around and no, Roma are no thieves.

 

Especially in Eastern Europe, Roma still suffer from exclusion. One of the countries where Roma are facing hard times is Hungary, where currently a consevative-right government is in charge. Almost ironically, the current Presidency of the EU is in the hands of Hungary. It is in this country -where during the last years several Roma were brutally murdered for racist reasons- that many Roma leaders today are celebrating their annual Roma day. I wish our fellow Europeans –and my Roma friends!- all the best.

 

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Wed

06

Apr

2011

Eco-state Germany

Can you believe it? According to the latest opinion polls, the green party in Germany would receive 28% of the votes, whereas the liberal FDP (let`s say: the Dutch VVD) would only get 3%. The German SPD would even be smaller than the Greens, with 23% of the votes. Green-red would have a clear majority in Parliament.

 

After all, Fukushima is close......

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Tue

05

Apr

2011

Starting today: daily blog on nuclear energy!

The exploded reactor 4 in Chernobyl
The exploded reactor 4 in Chernobyl

VUconnected, an association related to the Free University of Amsterdam, invited me to write a daily blog about nuclear energy, starting today, until April 26th, which is the 25th ´anniversary´ of the Chernobyl desaster.

 

I`m looking forward to this challenge and I hope that you will follow my texts. Here`s a direct link to my VUconnected webspecial.

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Tue

29

Mar

2011

Olkiluoto, a safe nuclear power plant?

Fukushima has shown the world that nobody can guarantee that nuclear power is absolutely safe. Finland s currently constructing a new nuclear power plant, and even planning three more plants for the coming years.

 

I went to Okiluoto a few weeks ago and found out that safety cannot be guaranteed by the Finnish either. Read my feature (click further down) and draw your own conclusions.

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Tue

22

Mar

2011

We want more money

The burnt-out former party building of Mubarak`s NDP in the centre of Cairo
The burnt-out former party building of Mubarak`s NDP in the centre of Cairo

Back in Cairo! In order to get a press accreditation for a field visit with the Ministry of Water during the next days, we went to the Ministry of Information this evening, located in the same building as the (former?) Egyptian state television. The building is located along the Nile, next to the burnt-out former party centre of Mubarak`s NDP.

 

In front of the building: tanks, soldiers with automatic weapons, barbed wire and an incredible traffic jam. One we have managed to take the unavoidable hurdle of inevitable security men who are busy smoking cigarettes, shouting in telephones and trying to look important, we walk up the stairs of the run-down media station/Ministry.

 

The atmosphere inside is still revolutionary and hectic, with old papers scattered on the floor, toilets which haven`t been cleaned for ages, smoking men everywhere, people running around, young soldiers hanging around and another soldier with an automatic weapon standing on the balcony, guarding the building. `Since the revolution started on January 25th, we have demonstrations here everyday,´ says Aziz Wael a journalist who just came back two days ago from Bengasi in Libya. `They come here because they want to be sure that the media see their protest.`

 

It`s understandable that the army is protecting the building: crime is on the rise in Egypt, since the hated police largely left the public domain. Outside, through the open windows, we hear an angry mob of demonstrators yelling their demands. This evening, two groups of demostrators are mixing: personnell of the state television, who want their corrupt chiefs to leave, and policemen who request a salary rise. Why? `That´s logical`, says Wael. `So far, they were used to be corrupt. That doesn`t work anymore in the new situation, they cannot bribe the people anymore, so they want an increase in salary. People hate them now, that`s why you don`t see many police around these days. But the Egyptians will find out again that we need them. Crime is on the rise, Egypt is becoming unsafe. We need a functioning police force for our democracy.`

 

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Sun

20

Mar

2011

Talking is the only option

Along the Nile, close to El Minya, three hours south of Cairo
Along the Nile, close to El Minya, three hours south of Cairo

Sudan, Ethiopia, Ruanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo: not only Egypt wants Nile water. Since the moment that -except for Egypt and Sudan- all other countries mentioned above started the so-called Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in 2009, politicians in Egypt and Sudan have been in a state of alarm. The other countries announced they want a bigger share of the Nile water for their development, and so Ethiopia for instance started the construction of dams in the Nile headwaters. Sudan and Egypt frantically disagree with the plans of the upstream countries.

 

Dr. Raouf Darwish, Managing Director of Darwish Consulting Engineers in Cairo, can understand the Egyptian worries, but he does not see any other option than to keep on talking with its international partners further upstream. ‘What other option do we have? I am 63 years old now. I have lived through the wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973, that was enough for me. We have to come to a common level of understanding. All the countries along the Nile are in a sort of marriage with each other, and in a marriage you first have to agree on rules and then you have to make compromises in order to be able to live with each other.’

 

Another urgently needed action in Egypt is to start saving water. Since roughly 80 percent of the annual 55,5 Billion cubic meters of Nile water that Egypt receives goes to agriculture, the biggest savings in water use can be achieved here. Mr. Darwish: ‘Since 1959, when our government agreed on the division of the water of the Nile, the population of Egypt has increased from 20 million people to more than 80 million. We have to increase our water saving efforts, we have to look for other water resources; we have to recycle water. Trying to renegotiate the shares of water on the international level will not bring us anywhere; it will only distract us from the real issue. We have to keep on talking as international partners. It’s our only option. Could a water war be possible? Anything is possible…’

 

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Sat

19

Mar

2011

Libya is everywhere

Normally, it would be easy to understand Mrs. Basilios Farag, one of the owners of the Mirhom Farag Farm, northeast of Cairo, but not today; especially not now. It’s Friday afternoon, and the muezzin is calling for prayers in the nearby village. ‘I think their loudspeakers are really too noisy’, says Basilios.


She herself would never go to the mosque: she’s a Coptic Christian Egyptian, a minority that –according to her- makes up for roughly twenty percent of the population. ‘The villagers around the farm are traditional people’, she explains. ‘Most of them are Muslims. But there are some other Christians in the village as well. They accept each other.’

 

Mrs. Basilios and her two sons own roughly 2000 cows, of which about 430 are American Holsteiners for dairy production. Furthermore, they own seven 150 feddan (acre) fields, further out in the desert. Mrs. Basilios Farag and her manager Mr. Mahdi take us out to the fields, along the desert road to Ismailia. Gigantic, green circles of land appear in the desert; huge irrigation ‘pivots’ rotate on the land.

 

The wheat on the fields is doing well; the plants grow fast on the basis of desert soil, nitrates and Nile water, that is pumped hill into a nearby irrigation canal. In a few weeks’ time, the wheat will be harvested. After that, corn will follow, the summer crop of choice.

 

‘I just heard that this afternoon the United Nations agreed on a resolution to take action in Libya’, says Mr Mahdi, standing in the Egyptian desert sand. He’s happy; these days Libyan leader Kaddafi is fighting back the Libyan opposition, something that worries him.

 

Although I’m interested in politics, I try to focus on the agriculture questions that I’m here for. Who owns the land we’re looking at? ‘Well....’, says Mr. Mahdi. ‘You see those date palms? You see these pivots? You see all the irrigated desert land here? In total it amounts up to 33.000 acres. We rent our land from a quite well known family. This family is from Libya. They are called Kaddafi.’

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Fri

18

Mar

2011

Egypt`s biggest dairy farm

‘In the beginning, we slept in tents, because there was nothing here, just desert´, tells Dr. Mohamed Waeed, manager of the livestock division of DINA farm, along the Desert Road between Cairo and Alexandria. Desert really means desert here: we’re talking about real, yellow sand. And when Dr. Waeed talks about the beginning, he talks about 1987. It’s almost unbelievable how fast this part of Egypt has developed since then. Residential areas, farm land and an eight-lane highway now occupy the desert northwest of Cairo.


Since its canvas inception in 1987, DINA Farm has grown into Egypt’s biggest dairy farm, with currently 7000 American-bred Holstein cows, producing milk for more than 20 outlets in Egypt. The farm has its own milk pasteurising plant, furthermore there’s a slaughterhouse and DINA farm grows vegetables and fruits as well.

 

‘We started as a demonstration project’, says Dr. Waeed. ‘We wanted to show the Egyptians that it is possible to produce quality food in our country.’ According to Dr. Waeed, the future of Egypt’s agriculture is in desert farming. ‘We have a lot of space, we have clean areas and we have underground water.’ Dr. Waeed wants the traditional, small-scale farmers to move out of the Nile Delta, where the population pressure of roughly 80 Million Egyptians is enormous. ‘In the Delta, the soil has salinity problems, there’s an overuse of pesticides polluting the water and there’s not enough space.’

 

DINA farm takes its water through roughly 120 wells, that pump up ground water from a depth of more than 150 metres. In the near future, water might come to the farm through a big water pipe from the Nile as well. The river runs just ten kilometres east of the farm. ‘I don’t worry about a shortage of Nile water’, Dr. Waeed assures. ‘I know the Ethiopians want to use more Nile water. But it won’t work for them. I’ve been there, it’s such a mountainous country, there’s no space for extensive agriculture. Besides, climate change might even bring more precipitation to the mountains of Ethiopia, leaving more water for us. No, the future of agriculture in Northern Africa is in the Egyptian desert. Who knows, we might become big exporters of agricultural and dairy produce to the region.

 

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Thu

17

Mar

2011

Tahrir square is still alive

Mohamed el Anwar (34) comes from Dakhla in the western desert of Egypt, but the last two months he spent most of his time on the Tahrir square, which has become the centre of the Egyptian revolution. He`s there this evening as well, trying to convince people to vote NO during the referendum vote this Saturday the 19th of March. Although the Tahrir square has been literally swept clean of demonstrators, dozens of people are still discussing in the streets. `We do not agree with the proposals for changes in the constitution, because it is only half work. We want a completely new start. I think most people will vote against; if not, we will have a problem again in Egypt.

 

By the way, did Egypt experience a revolution, or was it really a military coup? A high diplomat of the Dutch Embassy we spoke today thinks it was the last: the Army installed a High Commission which is in charge in the country right now. Egypt is still in a state of emergency, as it has been for the last thirty years. This night, there`s a curfew in the city starting at midnight. Still, Mohamed approves of the military take-over. `They are not like the police, the army is our friend.´

 

Later this evening, we got involved into a sort of fight. In one of the main streets all hell broke out because of January the 25th, the day which is regarded as the beginning of the revulution/coup in Egypt. Crowds gathered, people screamed, cars honked. What had happened: the street vendors had just started selling their new ´25th of January´ stickers. Cairo is alive and kicking!

 

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Wed

16

Mar

2011

Greetings from Cairo

Cairo, March 16th, 2011 – I just arrived in Cairo, this moloch city on the longest river in the world: the Nile, with a length of 6700 kilometers. During my flights from Berlin to Istanbul and then onwards to Cairo, I scanned through a great book: `When the rivers run dry` from Fred Pearce. Just one impressing fact from his book: lake Nasser, in the south of the country, finished with Russian help in the 1960ties and filled with Nile water, on one hand helps to diminish flood threats further downstream. On the other hand.... the gigantic lake surface in the middle of the desert is responsible for an unbelieveable annual evaporation of about FIFTEEN square kilometers of river water. This is roughly a third of the annual flow of the Nile. Can you believe it?

 

When approaching through the clear, dark skies from the north this evening, underneath me I saw the endless signs of civilisation, starting in Alexandria on the Mediterranen Sea, crossing the huge Nile delta onto Cairo. City lights and roads were everywhere, expect for a huge black stripe in the middle: the Nile, the lifeline of Egypt. All these dozens of millions of people underneath me depend on this river.

 

What will the new government plan for the future of the Nile, which has to cope with roughly ONE MILLION newborn Egyptians each nine months? We`ll see it in the next days, we´ll keep you posted!

 

 

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Thu

10

Mar

2011

Nuclear power in Finland

Olkiluoto - Brrrr, cold out here! In the middele of March, this small island on the remote west coast of Finland is still covered under a thick layer of snow. 

 

Olkiluoto was supposed to become the symbol of the ´revival´ of nuclear power in Europe - but so far, it`s doesn´t really work that well yet.

 

The new (third) EPR reactor which is currently being built on this island by AREVA-Siemens should have been on the electricity grid for years already, but the delay is enormous, and so are the unforeseen costs - billions and billions more than planned.

 

Still, according to spokesperson Käthe Sarparanta, OL3 will be delivering electricity in the second part of 2013. Let`s see if this will really happen.

 

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Fri

25

Feb

2011

Colorado running dry

The Colorado river in the western part of the USA is running dry. Climate change and population growth are the main reasons for the fact that the Colorado river, the lifeline of the American west, nowadays ends somewhere in the middle of the deserrt, and not in the Gulf of Mexico anymore.

 

Together with photographer Ronald de Hommel, I travelled this great river last summer, as part of our `disputed waters` project.

 

See more on: www.disputedwaters.com. And here`s a link to a feature about the river in German weekly Der Freitag (take a look at page 23).

0 Comments

Tue

02

Nov

2010

Eastern Europeans in Rotterdam

Last week, I published a feature about the tens of thousands of Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians in Rotterdam and the pressure they cause on poor neigbourhoods. Read it in www.groene.nl.

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Fri

01

Oct

2010

Roma in Bulgaria

Two weeks ago I visited Bulgaria for a week for some stories about the terrible situation of the Roma in this country. Read them this week in www.groene.nl and, in a few days, at www.expontomagazine.com.

 

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Sun

24

Jan

2010

Typical Roma?

From January 13th to 17th, I orgaised an international campaign training for roughly 25 Roma youngsters from Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. The atmosphere was good and the results as well! Find out more at www.typicalroma.eu, and become a fan of us on facebook!

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Sun

03

Jan

2010

New website, new blog

So, the year 2010 starts well, with a new website and a new blog! Let`s see who of you likes it....

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