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PIU

101

OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID)

OPEC bulletin 3–4/17

networks, theprovisionoftechnicalsupporttosmallfarm-

ers, the establishment of grading, packing and refrigera-

tion facilities and the start-up of a scheme to help local

producers purchase reasonably-priced inputs, such as

fruit trees, seeds and fertilizers.

The Lebaneseeconomyisheavilydependenton trade

and services, such as tourism, finance, housing, trans-

port and health and education.

While agriculture plays a relatively minor role in the

country’s overall economy (about six per cent of GDP in

2008 and eight per cent of the effective labour force), it

is particularly important for populations in the poorest

rural areas which depend on the sector as their primary

source of income and employment, Alhunaif explained.

Irrigation is a key requirement for agricultural produc-

tivityinmostpartsofLebanon, given the country’sprevail-

ingMediterranean climate, which features scarce rainfall

during the main summer growing season. The country’s

principal crops are citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes and

tobacco.

The proportion of poor populations in the focus areas

ofAkkar-Dannieh, NorthBaalbeckandHermelandSouth/

Lower Litani is higher than on the plains. However, these

hilly areas have good potential given that the majority of

the land is suitable (when water is available) for growing

high-value crops, such as fruit and vegetables.

This represents themainpossibility for verypoor rural

households to substantially raise their farm incomes.

Before the project, some of the focus areas were left fal-

low, due to the lack of water.

Located in Western Asia, Lebanon is bordered by

Syria to the north and east and has a coastline of about

220 kilometres on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a highly

demographicallyandgeographicallydiverse country, with

vast resources.

Climate, soils and vegetation differ markedly within

short distances. Generally, the coastal lowlands are hot

and humid in summer, becoming mild in winter.

In the mountains, which occupy much of Lebanon,

the weather is cool in summer with heavy snowfall in

winter.The country occupies an area ofmore than10,000

sq km.

However, water scarcity, rather than land resources,

is currently limiting the expansion of agricultural produc-

tion. Water efficiency in most existing irrigation schemes

is usually quite low.

In addition, uncontrolled private well drilling and

pumping result in a significant lowering of thewater table

and increased salinity. Thus, a focus on the sustainable

management of water is vital.

Out of a total population of more than four million, it

is estimated that 20–25 per cent of the country’s popu-

lation is engaged in some form of agricultural activities.

Alhunaif explained that the development of the agri-

culture sector wasapriority since it played suchan impor-

tant role in employment and pro-poor growth.

The rise in farmers’ average incomes, directly acces-

sible water, smart water and soil management practices

and the adoption of improved agricultural techniques, is

helping to develop the project area.

The scheme also aims to improve market linkages

for small farmers via technical support services and to

strengthen the capacities of implementing agencies and

partners.

From an environmental perspective, the project is

expected to alleviate water shortages during the sum-

mer periods, increase the infiltration of run-off water

and improve the capacity of downstream aquifers that

supply either irrigated schemes and/or drinking water

networks.

Water reservoir in the

mountains of Lebanon.