In the worst sandstorm in recent months in the Nouakchott regionQueen Letizia visited this Thursday the project of the Spanish cooperation consisting of planting orchards in the middle of the desert so that more than a hundred families find a way to feed themselves and earn a living.
On the second and last day of his trip to Mauritania, moved about 20 kilometers from the capital of the Maghreb country, Nouakchott, to see first-hand the orchards cultivated with drip irrigation in an area of ten hectares, baptized as the ‘Queen Letizia Agricultural Innovation Center’ in honor of her visit.
The surprise was the sandstorm that broke out shortly before the arrival of the queen, which shortened the walk through the different plots, of about 650 square meters each, ceded to about 130 families to plant lettuce, tomatoes and other horticultural products.
Letizia, who he had to put on glasses and a mask, He talked with some of the farmers, who showed him how they plant the land, separated from each other by forage cane plants to protect the crops precisely from the wind.
The families they put the first seeds a few weeks agoso the plants have not yet grown and the first harvest will be in a few months.
The queen also entered one of the ten greenhouses where seeds are sown and then delivered to families, accompanied by the president of the Nouakchott region, Fatimentou Mint Abdel Malick, and the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancel.
Orchards in the desert of Mauritania
The desert garden project Mauritanian is financed by the European Union (EU) with two million euros, but it is the Spanish cooperation that has executed it. Its objective is to promote food security and employment, in addition to combating climate change.
In addition to feeding themselves, what is grown will allow families to sell what they collect to have an economic resource. The Nuackhot region ceded the land, where the water reaches thanks to a nearby pumping station.
“The goal is to have food self-sufficiency in vegetables and fruits. It is a difficult project due to the weather conditions, but there is water,” the coordinator of the climate change program for the Nouakchott region, Fatimentou Boukhreiss, told the press. Mauritania, with some 4.5 million inhabitants, has an area twice that of Spain, which is mostly desert, which makes agriculture difficult and makes it dependent on fruit and vegetable supplies from neighboring countries such as Morocco and Senegal.
In addition to the agricultural aspect, the project seeks to promote clean energy on farms, in public lighting or in waste collection to make the population aware of the importance of reducing C02 emissions.
The orchard project is part of the so-called Covenant of Mayors of Sub-Saharan Africa that some 300 local institutions on the continent signed in 2015 to show their commitment to the climate emergency with help from the EU.