As Safir newspaper published a report on a pilot agriculture development project which was launched recently by the Union of Jabal Amel Municipalities and which has resulted in the setting up of model fields to plant thyme and vegetables, the boosting of apiculture and poultry production, in addition to the manufacturing of various kinds of dairy production, as part of a general plan to support and encourage agriculture and animal farming, particularly alternative agriculture.
According to the news paper report, the first phase of the project included the setting up of 52 thyme fields spread in most of the villages of Jabal Amel. Each field spreads over a surface area of one and a half dunum and is equipped with a drop irrigation network. In the second phase of the project, some 2000 seedlings will be planted in each field. The project also comprises the setting up of six model vegetable fields in Houla, Markaba, Assowaneh, Tallousa, kantara and 3dayyseh, with a 1 dunum surface area each. These fields will be planted and nurtured under the guidance of agricultural extension workers who will be conducting field visits to farmers in order to provide assistance and guidance on how to best use chemical fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation techniques
The head of the Union, Ali Al-Zein, explained to al Safir that preliminary information indicate that there is a strong will amongst farmers to rely on alternative agriculture in view of the wider marketing possibilities, the relatively good prices, and the possibility of having more than one harvest per year. Zein noted that this new trend carries many positive implications such as creating new work opportunities for farmers, allowing farmers to move away from the more expensive and labor intensive traditional crops such as tobacco and olives since alternative crops. Zein also noted that the project will be looking to support animal husbandry and apiculture as training workshops were organised for the latter and have targeted all farmers. These trainings have included dairy production so as to maximize the benefit from dairy production. The project also aims at reactivating a dairy factory, recently set up in the village of Houla in collaboration with the South Lebanon Council. This factory will soon become operational. Finally, Zein noted that the Union has planted more than 54000 fruit trees including 25000 olive trees and 5000 apple and kiwi trees, set up two agricultural cooperatives, in addition to an agricultural extension centre located in Markaba which is equipped with the needed machinery, an olive press, a soap making facility and a honey packaging facility. The centre is currently offering its services to farmers at subsidized costs.
Source: Al-Safir 13 August 2013