South Lebanese to receive UN aid to resume farming interrupted by war with Israel
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will launch a $3.3-million programme next month to help smallholders in South Lebanon resume farming after months of interruption caused by last year’s war between Israel and Hizbollah and the resulting unexploded ordnance.
Many farmers have been unable to go back to their fields given the presence of an estimated more than 1 million live Israeli cluster bombs left over from the hostilities. Over 200 people have been injured or killed by the devices since the conflict ended.
According to the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in Southern Lebanon, about 10 percent of the cluster bombs have now been cleared, allowing a resumption of farming activities in a number of districts.
FAO’s early recovery and rehabilitation programme will focus on the horticulture and livestock sectors and is funded under the UN Lebanon Recovery Fund.
Fruit and vegetable farmers, most of whom are heavily indebted after losing their harvests and being forced to remain idle for months, will be provided with “aid-in kind” – fertilizer, seeds and seedlings – and with help to rehabilitate their greenhouses.
Livestock keepers who lost their animals will be helped to re-stock, while measures will be taken to improve productivity in affected areas.
According to an initial assessment made by FAO after the war, damage and losses to the agricultural sector amounted to some $280 million.
Half of the working population in South Lebanon relies wholly on agriculture for a living, with the sector providing nearly 70 per cent of total household incomes. Some 50,000 families have been financially damaged by the war.