Belgium supports vulnerable small-scale farmers affected by the financial and economic crisis in Lebanon

Belgium supports vulnerable small-scale farmers affected by the financial and economic crisis in Lebanon


On 17 October 2019, nationwide protests erupted throughout Lebanon, coinciding with a major economic and financial crisis. This affected the productive capacity of the agriculture sector whose farmers cannot access most agricultural inputs (fertilizers, agro-chemicals, seeds, animal feed, etc.) due to increasing costs. Given limited liquidity and the suspension of credit lines, agricultural input suppliers are no longer able to secure payments for imports. Agri-businesses have been pushed to conduct transactions in cash on the parallel market, where the USD is trading at more than 66 percent above the official exchange rate.

Farmers are facing sudden and substantial increases in input prices in the weeks prior to planting, and suppliers are requesting full-cash payments rather than the usual end-of-season payments. Some inputs, such as certified potato seeds, were not even available in the market, forcing many farmers to use their own seeds at the risk of getting much lower yields or planting other crops. The higher input prices and/or their limited availability has resulted in many farmers missing the current planting season and might negatively affect the sowing of vegetables in early spring and subsequent seasons. If vulnerable farmers who rely solely on agriculture for their income do not access agricultural inputs for the next seasons, the impact on food security will worsen in rural areas. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) conducted an emergency needs assessment in early February 2020 to understand the impact of the crisis and to provide recommendations for emergency and medium term response. In response to these needs, the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium contributed USD 250 000 to FAO to help restore vegetable production of at least 820 farming families (4 100 people) in Akkar and Baalback-Hermel. FAO will target highly vulnerable women and men farmers who depend on farming for their livelihoods and provide them with vouchers to purchase inputs, materials and tools from a select list of input suppliers. The project aims to demonstrate the operational feasibility of a voucher system within the Lebanese context, which has a well-established private sector for agro-input retailing nationwide. The activities respond to immediate needs, with the ability to expand through the coordination mechanism set up by the Food Security and Agriculture Working Group and the mobilization of additional funds. With additional funding, this pilot project can be scaled up to cover other regions in Lebanon as well as a broader range of farmers, including livestock producers (e.g. for the purchase of animal feed and veterinary drugs).

Source : Fao