Helping Lebanon’s recovery
Agriculture has been hard-hit by recent hostilities
3 October 2006, Rome - FAO is currently helping Lebanon speed up the recovery of its agriculture sector, following recent hostilities, which had a devastating impact on the people and economy of the country.
Agriculture, the mainstay of rural economy, has been hard-hit by the war. All agricultural components, including fruit trees; vegetables and tobacco production; irrigation systems; farm machinery; farm structures; agricultural infrastructure; animal production, including dairy cows, goats, sheep and poultry; fisheries; and forestry were directly or indirectly affected by the war, FAO says, quoting a report by the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture.
The direct losses were in the southern part of Lebanon, but other areas were also affected in the north, in the Beqaa valley and in the southern coast of Mount Lebanon. As a result of the bombings, orchards were burnt, agricultural roads damaged, farm machinery destroyed, irrigation schemes destroyed or damaged, animals starved or killed and boats, nets and fisheries structures destroyed.
The indirect losses affected all agricultural zones in Lebanon, even those untouched by the war, due to loss of marketing infrastructure, where main roads were bombed and trucks specifically targeted. In addition, the agricultural labour force, mainly foreign, fled the country.
Direct and indirect losses were particularly large because the war took place at the peak time of harvest of some crops and time for critical maintenance of others. The agricultural and fisheries crises were aggravated by the blockade on the airport and maritime ports and the cluster bombs in agricultural fields and pastures.
The cluster bombs have contaminated many agricultural fields and grazing lands posing a serious threat to the resumption of agricultural activities.
FAO’s initiatives in support of Lebanon’s recovery strategy include an agricultural sector damage and needs assessment mission that is currently under way through a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP), while another project is aimed at strengthening the veterinary services to prevent and control Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreaks, thereby preventing serious losses to poultry raisers and rural economies, as well as safeguarding human health.
Regarding the Technical Cooperation Project related to agriculture, fisheries and forestry, FAO will provide, together with other inputs, a team of five experts; four of whom will be specialists in crop production, animal production, fisheries and forestry, and a mission Team Leader who will also look at socio-economic impacts.
At least one of the mission members, the Team Leader, is a specialist in emergencies and recovery, as requested by the Ministry of Agriculture of Lebanon. Joining the mission is an expert funded by the FAO/World Bank Cooperation Programme (FAO-CP) who will also contribute to the Economic and Social Impact Assessment being carried out by the World Bank.
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