During the last 25 years, Lebanese farmers were gradually marginalized, both as a consequence of the disarray in which public services (plant protection, quality control), research institutions and distribution system had reached and as a result of the increasing competition from other countries. For Lebanese fruit sector rehabilitation an overall strategy was badly needed. This strategy was realised through the establishment of a certification program aimed to produce and deliver virus-tested propagation material in Lebanon, update the legal framework through an appropriate certification law, and improve the standard of the nurseries sector.
This project encouraged collaboration between the private farms and the public authorities. The creation of Machatel Lebnan Association facilitated the dissemination of healthy seedlings, the processing of clonal and sanitary selection of commercially valuable local varieties and establishment of mother plant blocks for basic material conservation
Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute - LebanonLead applicant
Government Research for improving production in Lebanon dates back to the establishment of Tel Amara Station in the Bekaa Valley immediately after World War II as an agricultural training center. Later, in 1957, it became the Department of Agricultural Scientific Research of the Ministry of Agriculture. Other stations were established at Tourbol (Bekaa) for animal production, Abde (North) and Sour (South) for citrus. In 1964, the Department of Agricultural Scientific Research was reorganized as an autonomous public institution and became the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) working under the supervision of the Minister of Agriculture. More research stations were established at Fanar (Mount Lebanon) for animal health and agriculture, at Kfarshakhna (North) for soil, irrigation and farm machinery research. Both Tourbol and Kfardane were later, in the late seventies, handed over to the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).
Machatel Lebnan Association - LebanonInitiative partner
‘Machatel Lebnan Association’, which is an association established in the framework of this project, doesn’t intend profit and plays an important role between the private sector (nurseries and farmers), the scientific sector including research institutes such as LARI and the public sector including the MoA. The main activities of ‘Machatel Lebnan Association’ are: - To establish multiplication centers of cuttings and seeds aiming to deliver certified propagative material to the associated members (nurserymen); - To provide the technical assistance to the association members in all the production and marketing steps; - To collaborate and guarantee full support of the MoA, LARI, and other involved institutions in order to promote the Lebanese Certification Program; - To organize seminars, field days and pomological demonstrations for nurserymen and farmers to keep them up to dated with nursery management, new
Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture - LebanonInitiative partner
The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for the improvement of policies and practical programs for the advancement of the sector; the development of legal frameworks and organizational law, the building of infrastructures to facilitate investment, production and marketing, to guarantee the engagement of the largest possible segment of the Lebanese people. The Ministry of Agriculture plays a key role in the development and the management of the natural resources (agricultural land, irrigation water, forests, fisheries and pastures) and rural development programs (the role of women and youth) to enable the agricultural sector to benefit from added value and competitive advantage given by the local production and geographical climate.
Slogan: Plant certification: Improved Fruit Quality and Quantity The project was originally defined, and eventually intended to establish a full-fledged certification system in Lebanon in order to promote the upgrading of fruit cropping and nursery sector for the improvement of Lebanese agriculture after the civil war is over. In particular, the project was meant to support the Lebanese Government to issue an appropriate certification law and, pending its approval, to provide Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) with the know-how and the facilities necessary to produce guaranteed virus-free propagation material, and develop a fruit trees certification law for Lebanon.
The main innovations developed by this initiative can be summarized as follows:
- Produce and deliver virus-free propagation material;
- Support nurseries and scientific institutions in charge of the maintenance and propagation of healthy plant material for the rehabilitation of the nursery sector;
- Adoption of a simple and flexible law that regulates phytosanitary inspections and certification;
- Save the local (native) genotypes of strategic fruit tree species (stone fruits, pome fruits, grapevine and olives) that are seriously threatened by the sanitary deterioration through the clonal and sanitary selection and establishment of mother plants blocks at LARI stations for the conservation of certified material;
- Strengthen and develop LARI research facilities (in terms of premises and laboratories) and upgrade the Institute’s human resources.
The certification program covers all the Lebanese territory, and serves all communities of different religions. Consequently, production of pathogen-free planting materials of fruit trees is the most simple and economical approach that will lead to increase productivity and income and returns not only for the large scale farmers but also for the small scale family farmers, who normally lack the resources to deal with the numerous problems associated with planting unhealthy planting material.
The native genotypes represent a high value genetic material because of their adaptation to the pedo-climatic conditions which evolved over many centuries. Consequently, their conservation through selection of certified genetic resources stands as a basic tool for saving the national biodiversity treasure. In addition, some particular species, such as local olive varieties, are considered as monumental olive treasure for the country and their conservation has a great cultural and economic interest.
Development of a coherent and modern legislative framework to regulate the production of certified propagation material, plant protection, sanitary inspection of imports and the nursery sector activities. In addition, regulation of the nursery sector activities, were proposed and approved;
- Enable LARI to produce virus-free planting material and distribute it widely. This was the result of full cooperation among existing units (plant protection laboratories, mother blocks management unit, in vitro propagation unit…etc.); 710,000 certified seedlings in 2013 and around 4000 farmers are now using certified seedlings
- Establishing an association of private nurseries: with a minimal target of 14 members with120-150 ha of operational nurseries, including fields available for rotation;
- Clonal and sanitary selection of pome and stone fruits, olives and grapevines and the establishment of healthy mother plant collections.
The real and direct beneficiaries are the Lebanese small, medium and large fruit-cropping farmers and especially the resource poor farmers located in the marginal areas of the country, whose livelihood is hindered by the lack of healthy and certified seedlings;
-Another real beneficiaries are the fruit tree nurseries, whose business will improve when they produce a higher quality plant propagation material. To enhance the role of nurseries, 'Machatel Lebnan Association' has been established;
- Indirect beneficiaries are institutions (Diagnostic laboratories at Plant protection Department and laboratory of Biotechnology at LARI), NGOs and private holdings playing a relevant role in serving the rural communities. In addition, official inspectors and technicians at different levels and from different departments/offices of the MoA also benefited from this activity
TThe project provided technical assistance to the staff of the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture and Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute. The people involved in this project were:
- Head, Department of Plant Protection (LARI): PhD level;
- Head, Department of Biotechnology (LARI): PhD level;
- 4 Agricultural engineers from the Department of Plant Protection (LARI);
- 2 Agricultural engineers from the Department of Biotechnology (LARI);
- 2 technicians from the Department of Plant Protection (LARI);
- 1 Technical Manager from 'Machatel Lebnan Association';
-10 university students were trained at LARI during the implementation of this project;
- 14 Nurserymen;
- 1PhD student from CNRS.
One major difficulty in the beginning of the project was to establish reliable integration between the public services (extension services), the research organizations (testing new varieties , plant protection service, etc.) and the private enterprises (nurseries and farms). In addition, we faced a difficulty in persuading farmers to adopt certified propagating material; but later, both issues were solved and the use of certified seedlings was disseminated widely.
Initially, many functional units such as Lebanese plant protection services, the extension services, the legislative framework regulating the production and trade of fruit trees, pests monitoring unit and the certification system required substantial improvement. During the implementation of the project, the laboratories were better equipped, phytosanitary regional officer from MoA and laboratory assistant from LARI were trained in Italy and were empowered to carry out their duties in a better way.
The certification project had a positive impact on the environment through:
(a) Conservation of local varieties through the establishment of mother plant blocks for selected and pathogen-tested Lebanese varieties at different LARI stations;
(b) Increase biodiversity by introducing new promising and healthy varieties of pome and stone fruits, olives and citrus;
(c) Introduction of new healthy rootstocks of grapes, pome and stone fruits and citrus adapted to local pedo-climatic conditions;
(d) Reduction of pesticides used: the use of certified material led to the reduction of virus incidence and consequently the decrease of insecticides spray against virus vectors.
The outcomes of this project still have a long lasting effect because of the following reasons:
- Sectoral policy framework: the laws of phytosanitary inspections and certification are implemented by the MoA and they are regularly updated according to emerging needs;
- Social impact and benefits: the certified propagating plants are available to all Lebanese farmers;
- Appropriate technologies: plant protection and biotechnology laboratories still exchanging experience with European scientific institutions and Italian nurseries;
- Environmental aspects: the mother plant blocks established in the different stations of LARI are maintained and new selected varieties are introduced to these collections;
-Technical and economic sustainability: the selected clones of local varieties are of continuous economic relevance;
- 'Machatel Lebnan Association': still active and the number of members is increasing;
- This project achievements serve as a successful model for neighbouring countries.
The communication and dissemination of the objectives and outcomes of this project were achieved through:
- A press conference;
- TV and radio interviews;
- Seven seminars in the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture and Municipalities in order to present to the operators and to the local scientific community the initiative and to raise the operators’ awareness on the main aspects of fruit crop protection and on the production of virus-free and certified material;
- 1 Brochure for disseminating the objectives and the activities of the project;
- 1 Brochure for 'Machatel Lebnan Association';
- 2 Booklets on the main pests affecting pome and stone fruit trees, olives, grapevine and Citrus trees and their control strategies;
- 1 Booklet on stone fruits and grapevine cultivars from Lebanon;
- 9 publications;