Moroccan startup is growing crops in the desert
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Moroccan startup is growing crops in the desert using agroforestry to create a new kind of sustainable agriculture.

The degradation of formerly fertile land is caused by climate change, causing desertification to become a more pressing problem. 250 million people are directly impacted by this degradation.

The issue affects a third of the Earth’s land surface, including Africa, South America, southern Europe, China, and a third of US soil. Turning arid land back into agricultural fields could be the key to feeding the world’s population by 2050.

Wissal Ben Moussa, the company’s co-founder and chief agricultural officer, says Sand to Green can turn a desert patch into a sustainable and profitable plantation in five years.

A Sand to Green solar-powered desalination system can be deployed anywhere brackish water is found. As a result, it plants a variety of fruit-producing trees and herbs on the same plot and drip-irrigates them directly with the desalinated water, minimizing evaporation.

Using “green manure,” Sand to Green regenerates the soil by combining compost, biochar, and microorganisms that help it “wake up,” according to Ben Moussa. Water can be retained in arid soils by using biochar, a form of charcoal.

This allows some herbs to be ready for harvest after just two years.

“They are endemic to the regions where we plan to deploy, have high added values in terms of produce, and are extremely resilient.”

Herbs such as rosemary, geranium, vetiver, and citronella have been successfully intercropped, and Ben Moussa describes them as “low-maintenance and high-margin.”

Earlier this year, the company raised $1 million in seed funding, and there are plans for an additional 500-hectare project, again in Morocco.