|Lebanon: Effective Partnerships against Threats to Agricultural Livelihoods|
AVSI has catalyzed and led a diverse and large partnership of researchers and farmers to fight a plague of phytoplasma , a bacteria that is resistant to the available pesticides and rapidly spreading through the orchards of Lebanon. This bacterium is threatening the survival of the traditional and famous almond trees, particularly in the North, and the peach trees of the South.
AVSI has been active for years in Lebanon in many areas including agriculture. AVSI’s work has involved supporting farmers and farmer groups to cope with irrigation challenges, to access improved seeds and to engage with other farmers across cultural and social divisions. http://www.avsi-usa.org/middle-east/lebanon.html . The project “Water: Source of Coexistence” has produced significant achievements: increased volume of water available for irrigation and other uses has benefited around 40,000 people across the Christian and Muslim communities. See the article in AVSI-USA’s August 2009 Newsletter: http://www.avsi-usa.org/publications.html .
A scientific partnership was coordinated between prestigious Lebanese (American University of Beirut, Lebanese Agriculture Research Institute, University of Saint-Esprit de Kaslik and the Lebanese University) and Italian (University of Milan and University of Turin) research institutes.
The project, in 12 months, involved 551 farmers, 910 orchards, regularly monitored, in 430 villages belonging to all the 26 Lebanese "Caza".
The monitoring led to the identification of the disease in about 40,000 plants. The issue was addressed by an innovative, integrated method, involving field monitoring, laboratory research and awareness training and information for farmers, thus shifting the focus of the project from solving an agricultural problem to dealing with the individual farmers and communities living “with” the problem. This approach kept the farmers at the center and allowed for a balance between field and research activities.
It was clear that the key for a successful endeavor was bringing together different national and international expertise which also enlarged the scope of the initiative towards a regional perspective.
The results of the program so far were presented during an international Symposium organized by AVSI in Milan, Italy, this past September 25th, 2010, with the participation of the project partners and also officials and researchers from Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Iran, who are concerned about related threats posed to their countries and interested in the effective methodology.
For more information see: www.avsi-usa.org/docs/pdf/Lebanon Symposium.pdf and