In response to the brutal worsening of the economic situation in Lebanon, which led to massive unemployment and food insecurity, MERATH initiated in 2021 sustainable agriculture projects through three local partner churches in Lebanon. The goal was to provide much needed jobs and income to local agriculture workers and to provide fresh organic vegetables to vulnerable households. After two years of sowing and lessons learned, these projects are now helping the churches reap all sorts of fruits, and we are hopeful that they will soon become fully self-sustained.
The Germination Of An Idea
Because the war in Syria deprived so many families of their livelihoods, MERATH has been supporting sustainable agriculture projects in Syria since 2016, that have helped over 900 families of farmers to get back to their fields, cultivate their land, increase their yield, meet their own food needs and plan for the future.
Encouraged by such holistic impact and faced with the brutal worsening of the economic situation in Lebanon, which led to massive unemployment and food insecurity, MERATH was inspired to initiate, in 2021, sustainable agriculture projects through three local partner churches in Lebanon. The goal was to provide much needed jobs and income to farmers and local agriculture workers and to provide fresh organic vegetables to vulnerable households. Bahaa, who oversees this project in one location, explains why it was very much needed:
“The village where our church is located is in North Lebanon, very far from Beirut. Residents mainly live off agriculture. However, the economic crisis has put such pressure on farmers that they are no longer able to pay for fuel to turn on generators to water plants or to purchase seeds, pesticides, and the necessary ingredients to make preserves. As a result, farmers are seeing a decrease in yield and are no longer able to sustain their livelihoods.”
A Long Time Of Sowing
In a country that is so heavily reliant on conventional agriculture, the first step was to train partners in sustainable agriculture practices. During the training and with the help of a specialized consultant, partners were able to design and plan their own agriculture project, each in a way that was tailored to their vision, capacity, and available resources.
Then came the implementation phase. Our partners began working the land and planting summer and winter vegetables, only using biopesticides and organic fertilizers. Our partner church in North Lebanon also wanted to include livestock, and got chickens and goats. The team was hoping they could sell the eggs and the milk to cover other project expenses.
They also planted wheat – at a time the repercussions of the war in Ukraine were causing severe shortages in Lebanon – and learned to make their own biopesticide and compost. During this initial phase, our partners faced several challenges and learned by doing. Bahaa recalls:
“During the first year, we faced several challenges, as we were still new to sustainable agriculture. Our yield was smaller than expected and it felt a bit discouraging. We ended up thinking maybe our dream was too big. But we… read more.
MERATH WALKS WITH FAMILIES TOWARD A SUSTAINABLE AND HOPEFUL FUTURE
The severe decline of the economic situation in Syria and Lebanon deprived many families of their jobs or livelihoods. MERATH continues to complement relief assistance with livelihoods and recovery projects, such as sustainable agriculture, shelter rehabilitation, adult literacy, and vocational trainings, to help families gain skills or get back on their feet.