© Dalia Khamissy

Support for farming families and the vulnerable population in Beirut

© Dalia Khamissy

Helvetas is helping farming families in crisis-stricken Lebanon to continue to supply the country with food while adopting more sustainable agricultural practices. This includes setting up a market in Beirut so that farmers can sell their produce directly to an increasingly vulnerable population, thereby supporting the country’s food security.

  • Project Name
    FSSF – Strengthening food security for poor and very poor households in Lebanon
  • Project Phase
    2021 to 2022
  • Funding
    Swiss Solidarity
  • Thematic focus
    Food & Nutrition

Auxiliary products and training in sustainable agriculture

With the devaluation of the Lebanese pound and rampant inflation, many farming families can no longer afford fertilizers, pesticides, gas and other inputs. These products are all imported and paid for in US dollars. Helvetas is supporting small farms in the Mount Lebanon and Beqaa Valley regions to the east of Beirut by supplying them with auxiliary products, seeds and compost so that they can maintain their production and make a contribution to food security in the country. The farmers also receive training through a local partner organization, combined with personalized monitoring to help them make the transition to a more sustainable agricultural model. The know-how they acquire and these innovations enable the farmers to significantly reduce their use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, helping them be independent of imports while maintaining good yields of healthy fruit and vegetables.

© Dalia Khamissy
The farmers involved in the project now use more natural fertilizers and have greatly reduced the use of pesticides. © Dalia Khamissy
© Dalia Khamissy
Jihad Abou Rjeily, one of the farmers involved in the project, produces his own crop protection products. © Dalia Khamissy

A direct supply chain from farming families...

Helvetas has established a weekly market in Beirut so that farming families can sell their fruit and vegetables without relying on the intermediaries who play a dominant role in Lebanese agriculture. The market was inaugurated in 2022, and the produce sold there is cheaper than in nearby shops. This space makes farmers more independent, while also giving them insights on what consumers are looking for. More than anything, though, it increases their profit margin, which helps them to improve their living conditions.

© Dalia Khamissy
The project owes its success to the excellent cooperation between the farmers, Helvetas and the staff of our partner organization in Lebanon. © Dalia Khamissy

…to the people of Beirut

The market is held in one of the neighborhoods that suffered from the explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020. The explosion killed over 200 people, caused enormous damage and made life even harder for a local population already reeling from years of economic crisis. Immediately after the disaster, Helvetas distributed food parcels to the most vulnerable communities in the vicinity of the port. After a temporary period during which Helvetas purchased supplies from local farmers for distribution by a partner organization, the new market started to play its role. This commerce space makes healthy, affordable food available to people in the parts of town affected by the explosion and improves their food security.

In addition to the market, farmers also supply a social grocery in Beirut. It is run like a cooperative, with the idea being that it sells food at cost so that as many people as possible can benefit. Helvetas is currently studying other sales channels.

Nation Station farmers’ market in Beirut, Lebanon | © Dalia Khamissy
The residents of Beirut are happy that they can buy healthy products at low prices at the market initiated by Helvetas. These two neighbors came to shop on the opening day. © Dalia Khamissy

Activities for children from vulnerable families

The project also has a psychological and social component. During the summer holidays, 60 children from particularly vulnerable Beirut families were able to take part in workshops organized during market time and led by farmers and trainers from Helvetas’ partner organization. The children learned how to plant a plant and take care of it. Thirty children were also able to visit farms operating on the principles of sustainable agriculture. Many of these children have been living in very precarious conditions since the port explosion, and these free activities are their only affordable source of entertainment.

Children Workshop | © Maya Dakkak
Tony Khalil, a farmer participating in the Helvetas project, leads an activity for children on the sidelines of the market. © Maya Dakkak

Food & Nutrition

Helvetas works to combat the world’s hunger problem by connecting disadvantaged women and men to stable supplies of affordable, nutritious and healthy food.

WASH Services

Helvetas helps vulnerable populations build resilience and prepare for climate change by securing access to safe water and a stable supply of nutritious food.