Chamomile tea is one of the healthiest, most favored herbal teas with many benefits, which makes it popular in different cultures. During the chamomile harvest season in Egypt, considered among the top growers and exporters of chamomile in the Arab world, local farmers and photographers show great interest in documenting the picking of these small flowers also known as ‘little suns’.
The chamomile harvest season in Egypt starts in March, luring fans from across the country, mainly photographers who flock to capture the vivid colors of chamomile and the fatigue of pickers.
The harvest is made with soft hands, as women and girls are often responsible for this task. Looking like bees floating around the flowers in the fields, these harvesters offer visitors an ambiance of fun, seriousness, and hard work. The season runs until the end of April.
“I was eager to take photos of them because I really respect their struggle. Every little girl collects five to 20 kilograms of chamomile every day and sell the kilogram for $2 only ($1=15.6 Egyptian pound), which means they make around 12 to 20 Egyptian pound per day. It’s a low pay for the hard work they do,” photographer Sahl Abdul Rahman told Asharq Al Awsat.
“Around 80,000 acres of medical and aromatic plants are grown in Egypt. We are among the top producers of these small flowers thanks to our country’s hospitable climate and soil,” Engineer Adel al-Akhras, assistant director of agriculture department at the Azhar Park, told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Egypt ranks among the largest exporters of chamomile. The European Union is the biggest importer, its member states buy 70 percent of the Egyptian chamomile production, followed by the United States, and several Asian countries. Egypt is also a large exporter of Artemisia, which helps bring foreign currency and create job opportunities in the country. Medical and aromatic plants can also be dried and used as raw material to produce herbs, oils, or pastes.