World Bank Supports Small Scale Lebanese Farmers Reeling under the Pressure of Lebanon’s Multiple Crises
BEIRUT: The World Bank has approved the re-allocation of US$10 million under the existing Roads and Employment Project to support small-scale Lebanese farmers with agricultural inputs and animal feed to help them sustain their plant and animal production, and support their ability to contribute to food security. The program is expected to benefit around 26,700 small-scale farmers who have suffered from this year’s COVID-19-related planting and harvesting delays. It will also provide approximately 1 million animal vaccine doses to contribute to the annual livestock vaccination campaign.
Agriculture is seen as a critical sector for employment creation and poverty reduction in Lebanon, for both Lebanese people and Syrian refugees. The Lebanese agriculture sector has been severely affected by the recent economic and financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. The absence of credit facilities, the currency devaluation and the capital control measures hindering the payment of suppliers in the agriculture sector have severely impacted agriculture production given the country’s reliance on imports of agricultural inputs.
“Preserving and strengthening agricultural domestic production and value chains are not only critical to mitigate the short-term risk related to food security, but also to boost the local economy and create employment opportunities in the agriculture sector”, said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. “The World Bank is strongly committed to stand by Lebanon as it faces unprecedented compounded crises by saving people’s lives and livelihoods and supporting a faster economic recovery.”
The small-scale farmers’ support program will provide eligible farmers with two types of vouchers for the procurement of essential inputs to enable continued agricultural production: vouchers for crop production inputs (fertilizers, seeds, seedlings and other eligible agricultural inputs) and vouchers for livestock production inputs, mostly feed. The value of each voucher would be US$300. Given that most of the agricultural inputs in Lebanon are imported, all transactions between the input suppliers and farmers will be processed in US dollars through vouchers.
The program will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Lebanon (FAO) under the overall technical leadership and guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and in strict compliance with World Bank’s fiduciary and safeguard policies. The FAO will be responsible for identifying and selecting the input suppliers in accordance with agreed eligibility criteria, verifying and validating that the input suppliers have received the funds and distributed the inputs to eligible beneficiaries upon submission of the vouchers, and submitting monitoring reports on a monthly basis.
“FAO is building on its similar agricultural inputs voucher schemes experience in Lebanon and the world with the aim to contribute to restoring the livelihoods and productive capacities of farmers and producers and increasing agricultural production and productivity in Lebanon”, said Maurice Saade, FAO Representative in Lebanon. “Those being the first two pillars of the National Agricultural Strategy recently adopted by the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture with technical support from FAO.”
Under the program, FAO will also recruit an independent Third-Party Monitoring Agent (TPMA) to conduct: (i) the validation of a random sample of “pre-approved beneficiaries” based on field visits to ensure that the beneficiaries meet the eligibility criteria; and ii) the post-distribution monitoring, based on the verification of a random sample of beneficiaries who received input vouchers. Another TPMA will be recruited by the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) to verify that the animal vaccinations have been implemented as per the agreed procedures and in accordance with the annual vaccination program of the Directorate of Animal Resources.
Farmers will be invited to submit their applications to the program via a national campaign to be launched shortly by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with FAO. The small-scale farmers’ support program will adopt a robust Grievance Redress Mechanism to ensure queries and complaints of all stakeholders including farming applicants, beneficiary farmers, input suppliers and agricultural communities are resolved in a prompt, efficient and transparent manner. The program was designed in close collaboration with the World Bank who will undertake close monitoring of implementation to ensure strict compliance with the principles of transparency, fairness and efficiency.