Beirut, Lebanon – With the Lebanese government running out of time for subsidies, driven by the deepening liquidity crisis and heavy dependence on imported foreign goods, as food prices continue to rise, this troubled country is facing an uphill battle , In order to maintain the supply of its population.
Despite having the highest percentage of arable land in the Arab world, over 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres), Lebanon’s own agricultural sector has been underfunded and underdeveloped for many years due to the lack of modern equipment and inefficient production techniques.
Now, because Lebanese farmers cannot even pay for their own operating costs, and the government is paralyzed by the political deadlock, international NGOs such as Anera are forced to expand their aid programs to fight back Rapid socioeconomic decline.
“I think Lebanon is a rich country that has not fulfilled its potential, not just in agriculture,” Anera’s Lebanese country director, Samar El Yasser, told Al Jazeera.
“Due to our poor governance, instead of optimizing our resources multiple times, we are reducing [them].
“Our intervention is at the grassroots, community level, not policy level. No government can influence. We are trying to find ways to build resilience and sustain the development of these communities during these crises.”
Infrastructure does not exist
When they were happier, some farmers in Lebanon made considerable profits by selling products to foreign markets. However, as these markets became inaccessible, this resulted in a system of diminishing returns.
After a batch of pomegranates was found, Saudi Arabia suspended all Lebanese fruit and vegetable imports in April. Used to smuggle millions of Captagon pills Entering the kingdom cut off an important source of income and tarnished the international image of Lebanese agricultural products.
“Lebanon grows high-quality products and sells them at high prices in the Gulf,” said Serene Dardari, Anera’s communications and outreach manager.
“When the export price of agricultural products is high, Lebanon imports the same products from other neighboring countries to benefit from price differences and taxes. This is not a truly sustainable economic system.
“Infrastructure and technical support are weak or non-existent,” she continued. “Although Lebanon has the highest rainfall in the region, due to the severe lack of dams, the water supply has been in short supply, otherwise the excess rainwater can be used for irrigation and other functions.”
In the Akha region off the coast of Lebanon, which is one of the most fertile areas in the country, Anera has been providing farmers with tools and technical assistance, as well as high-quality seeds and pesticides, while also helping them hire more agricultural workers. Many of them are Syrian immigrants.
This then allows farmers to expand their farmland and build new plastic greenhouses and irrigation pipe systems, also provided by Anera.
“Many of our rivers are polluted and most of the land is not properly used,” Yasser explained. “We are teaching farmers how to irrigate with unpolluted water and good practices. Hope this will not only increase their income, but also improve the quality of the food they produce.”
Daddari added: “The driving concept behind this is to teach a person how to fish, not to give him one. By improving the capacity of farmers and the quantity and quality of output, we are trying to minimize their dependence on aid.”
Through this plan, the NGO hopes to provide a model for a more productive and profitable agricultural industry. This will enable Anera and other organizations and local communities to develop further in the future through methods that can be scaled to available resources.
Worried about “brain drain”
In order for this development to continue in a meaningful and lasting way, a new generation of farmers is needed to advance it. With so many Lebanese graduates and professionals leaving the country to find a better life elsewhere, it may be difficult.
“What worries me [both] Yassir lamented: “The Lebanese and the country’s development experts are a “brain drain” from all sectors.
“One of Lebanon’s many resources is its people. [We] Have the opportunity to receive a good education, so we [need to] Use these talents. “
Fortunately, Anera may have found a potential solution to this problem, providing young people with an opportunity to try farm work on their own, combined with their other development plans.
“We are investing in training youth agriculture to allow them to contact different farmers so that they can gain more experience while helping these farmers,” Yasser said. “We also helped them establish their own small-scale farming practices on their own land.
“Lebanon has collapsed, and we need youth and communities to rebuild it,” she added. “Lebanon needs a government that can implement reforms that currently hinder foreign aid.”
The NGO stated that by cultivating the interest of the younger generation in the field, it will realize the need for sustainable agriculture and its potential as a potential career path.
with Fuel subsidies are also coming to an endMany people in Lebanon are preparing for further sharp increases in food prices because farmers need a lot of fuel to operate their machines and deliver their goods to the market.