The World Bank has approved $200 million in financing to bolster Lebanon’s embattled agricultural and farming sector.
The funds “will support productive investments that improve the agriculture sector productivity and enhance access to markets”, the World Bank said.
It is aimed at farmers and small and medium enterprises in the Lebanese agri-food sector.
According to the World Bank, the sector has suffered a series of devastating blows in recent years.
The economic crisis in Lebanon, which first became apparent in 2019, has led to the virtual collapse of the country’s financial system – with the local currency plummeting in value by about 98 per cent against the US dollar on the parallel market.
Lebanon is heavily import dependent for livestock and wheat, but produces an abundance of fruit and vegetables. The country also has a water-scarcity problem, while even some available water is sometimes contaminated.
“The global rise in the prices of fertilisers and fuel, compounded by the foreign exchange crisis in Lebanon, has severely impacted agricultural production,” the World Bank said.
“Farmers and agri-food SMEs have totally lost access to finance due to the financial and banking crisis. The sector’s viability has been further threatened by the breakdown in public service provision, with water and soil quality or basic rural road connectivity rapidly deteriorating,” it added.
According to the World Bank, about 80,000 of farmers are expected to benefit from the financing. The project, among other things, will support “climate smart” investments, services and infrastructure.
“The agriculture sector has a key role in unlocking growth, creating jobs and improving livelihoods, particularly in rural areas,” saidJean-Christophe Carret, World Bank Middle East country director.
He said the “project will provide a lifeline to a large share of vulnerable farmers and agri-food SMEs. It will support the recovery of Lebanon’s agri-food sector in the short to medium term and lay out a pathway towards its sustainable transformation”.
Source: The National News