Beirut, 26 August 2019 (ESCWA)--Agriculture in Lebanon absorbs about 11% of the active labour force in the formal and informal sectors and generates 3% of the country’s gross domestic product. The transfer and adaptation of new technologies in the sector are still at an early stage; they require high investments and remain restricted to individual initiatives. In this context, ESCWA is holding a two-day meeting on Context-based Technologies to Enhance the Efficiency and Resilience of Agri-food Systems in Lebanon, in partnership with the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Lebanon.
The meeting today opened with statements by the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Hasan Lakkis; the Director of FAO in Lebanon, Mr. Maurice Saade; the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Lebanon, Mr. Jan Waltmans; and the Director of the ESCWA Statistics Division, Mr. Juraj Riecan.
“The agriculture sector is the economic vein of rural remote areas: it generates most employment opportunities in addition to good quality food, affordable by the local population,” Riecan said.
The sector connects the country with the Arab region and the world, opening business opportunities in competitive markets. In 2018, agricultural products accounted for 22% of Lebanon’s exports and 18% of its imports.
“However, the sector is challenged by structural barriers, including those stemming from land degradation, desertification and fragmentation, extreme weather events and water scarcity. Some 60% of available water resources are used to irrigate 48% of useful agriculture surface,” Riecan added.
“It is almost impossible to achieve tangible impact in agriculture-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without relying on new technologies, which improve efficiency and resilience while mitigating negative effects on the environment,” he underscored.
In turn, Saade stressed the need for innovation to support all stages of the agriculture process including production, marketing and distribution.
Ambassador Waltmans highlighted successful experiences from the Netherlands in transferring technology in agriculture. He stressed that his country would remain a partner in supporting Lebanon to improve the sector.
Minister Lakkis underlined the need to support small farmers in a context of lack of access to soft loans and limited support programmes. He hoped that the meeting recommendations would feed into new agricultural policies and that success stories could be replicated by small farmers.
The meeting brings together farmers with experts from the Ministry of Agriculture in Lebanon, United Nations organizations, faculties of agriculture in various universities and research institutions, the private sector, business incubators and non-governmental organizations.
Participants will reach policy recommendations and key messages that will inform the new Lebanese agriculture strategy 2020-2025.
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