Last Friday, World Vision and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrated the achievements of a three year project that has helped hundreds of Lebanese farmers grow organic agriculture in Lebanon. The project – called the Sustainable Agri-Business Initiative for Lebanon Project – directly helped 800 farmers and over 4500 people in total.
USAID helped spearhead this widespread organic farming by providing the funding to develop specialized organic agriculture practices, provide state-of-the-art processing, packaging, and storage facilities throughout Lebanon, and put the necessary marketing services in place in order to successfully bring organic Lebanese farm products to the market.
Through this project, farmers from Bint Jbeil, East Sidon, Marjayoung, the Bekaa Valley, North Lebanon and Beirut were able to earn organic certifications and sell their produce at higher prices than conventional produce (thus providing a cash incentive for being green). In addition to being sold in Lebanon, some products have been exported to Europe and the Gulf (which makes this Green Prophet a little weary of the environmental benefits of growing organic produce just in order to ship it far, far away and cause environmental damage through that process… but that’s another story).
Project manager Nabil Maalouf said: “We are proud for having created, and not just enhanced, the organic agriculture sector in Lebanon, which has positive impact on the environment, the economy, and the health of the consumer.”
According to USAID official, Christine Sayegh: “The journey of the organic farming sector under the program was not easy, yet despite the many challenging times, what was achieved in Lebanon by the program and its partners in the past five years has taken other countries at least a decade.” Well done, Lebanon.