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August 4th, 2020 Explosion

On August 4th, 2020 Beirut suffered an unfathomable blast, as stores of ammonium nitrate exploded in two consecutive blasts, sending shock waves for miles, leaving behind an apocalyptic scene. That day will be imbedded in the psyche of the Lebanese for generations to come.

Scarabée Regenerative extends its deepest sympathies to the Lebanese as this unfathomable and unconscionable act shattered the already fragile and stressed situation. We believe in the strength and resilience of the Lebanese people, who have been abandoned by a corrupt and criminal government.

Our mission is all the more critical in 2023 and we are fully committed to be a part of a solution

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Over 200 Dead -  7000 Injured

300,000 Homeless

Our Initiative in Lebanon

“Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis, and the crisis of democracy.”  

Vandana Shiva - Food activist - Author.

People in Lebanon walking through an abandoned building with graffiti on the wall spelling Revolution and a drawing of flipped finger.
Wall graffiti in Lebanon that says Fuck the System.

Beirut, October 2019 Thawra-Revolution

The Crisis Before August 4th, 2020

In 2019, the UNFAO 2020 Early Warning Action Report Lebanon is listed “On Watch" because of its economic crisis. Since then, the government monetary policy imploded in 2020 as falling public confidence has seen the supply of US dollars in the country dry up. Now, "hit by its worst economic crisis in modern history, there are fears the country is about to repeat the 1915-18 famine."(The Telegraph)

The Lebanese are bartering possessions for food. "A quarter of the Lebanese population is in danger of dropping beneath the food poverty line in a country that relies on imported food and has little domestic agriculture."(Ahram)

 

Lebanon plunges into darkness with power outages that last as long as 23 hours in some regions. Private diesel generators now run the electrical grid, sending toxic fumes throughout the country which envelop Beirut in a toxic yellow haze. We find ourselves on the eve of 2023 with no elected president, a GDP that has shrunk by more than half and the Lebanese pound that trades on the black market at 42,000 to the dollar. The unrelenting  economic crisis has triggered an exodus as people are fleeing across the Mediterranean and an environmental disaster for those who stayed. Generators “are spewing loads of cancer-causing chemicals into the air… The level of toxic emissions has jumped three-fold since the crisis…and will mean an extra 550 cancer patients and 3,000 cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease each year.”(The Economist)

Lebanon imports about 80% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine and since the war in Ukraine, it struggles to meet that demand. Local wheat farmers did not receive promised wheat seeds because of a political quagmire, their plowed fields will remain bare. Such is a the crude injustice of a political system insensitive to its people at its most elemental level.

 

The pursuit of higher yields over the decades compromised the integrity of wheat seeds and yet there are many initiatives in the MENA region aimed at preserving and disseminating ancient varieties of wheat, barley, forage legumes and fruit trees. Their conservation is crucial in preserving their precious biodiversity and their cultural heritage. "More attention should be given to analyzing and conserving these traditional foods. Giving farmers the right incentives for planting and con-serving wheat landraces from the Levant, where they originated, and preserving buffer zones for wild crop relatives holds significant potential in this respect...Spreading awareness of the benefits of local food systems and the challenges that wheat
farmers face would encourage consumers to eat locally produced food."
(JAFSCDSalwa Tohmé Tawk)

 

Supporting small farmers by helping them transition to a healthier agriculture is a necessary step. And encouraging domestic production of these varieties would help assuage the unstable nature of wheat seed procurement in MENA.

Face of woman with red scarf against backdrop of demonstration crowds in Beirut, during October 2019 Revolution.

Beirut, October 2019 Thawra-Revolution

Night shot of Beirut during power outage, with few building lights.

Beirut, July 2020

The Problem

One of the key contributors to the Lebanese crisis is “the current degenerative agricultural system and the high cost of production disturbing the balance of food security.”(ISSN) The misuse of costly chemical inputs, that is responsible for driving farmers into debt, is also undermining soil health—reducing pest resilience, and poisoning groundwater as well as the Lebanese people.

 

"Approximately 5.6 billion pounds of pesticides are used worldwide. In many developing countries programs to control exposures are limited or non-existent. It has been estimated that as many as 25 million agricultural workers worldwide experience unintentional pesticide poisonings each year."(NCBI) One of the common reasons for cancer in Lebanon is from agricultural toxic contamination in drinking water and irrigation runoff. "The farmers, who use the products, mix them, apply and repeat application without being fully aware of actual subsequent hazards that often lead to death. Victims of the phenomenon are numerous in Lebanon.”(ISSN)

In a recent news article, "agriculture consultant Mohanad Dabbagh told The Daily Star that among several measures, one would be to offer more guidance to new small farmers on how to regenerate their soil, which has often been long abandoned or degraded by chemical pesticides. 'If they received proper guidance now, they may be able to make a good crop next year.'” Dabbagh said.(Daily Star)

Aggravated by the Covid19 pandemic, over 75% of the Lebanese reportedly worried about food security and without a clear path of rectification from the government, a movement grew among its citizens to grow their own food, yet effective and accessible information in this field is scarce.
 

"Wheat production in particular, and the agricultural sector in general, are under serious threat...Farmers in West Bekaa are highly dependent on improved wheat varieties
and have abandoned land acres. They have been suffering from a lack of tenure security, where most wheat producers are tenants in a country characterized by a laissez-faire agricultural policy that constrains their agricultural development and innovation."
(JAFSCD Salwa Tohmé Tawk)

Scarabée Regenerative wants to help by sharing Regenerative Agricultural practices as a solution to the many faces of Lebanon's alarming crisis.

A man standing high on wall ladder inside an abandoned building, hanging a Lebanese flag while his friend below looks up.

Beirut, October 2019 Thawra-Revolution

Silhouette painting of man holding child’s hand on panel hiding construction site in Beirut.

Our Solution

Our Regenerative Agriculture website and social media presence, will provide resources, links to organizations, relevant studies. Farmers and citizens alike can learn regenerative farming principles and practices such as: agroforestry, conservation tillage, cover crops, multiple crop rotation, animal integration, in-farm fertility and better low-carbon farm management.

Starting in February-March 2023, we will be offering free composting workshops and help selected farmers transition their small farm to regenerative practices. Our hope is to develop a larger farm project to be used as an educational center and demonstration farm. The Rodale Institute, widely recognized as the birthplace of the organic movement will share their expertise and consult with us in the development of larger farm projects. For the last five years, The Rodale Institute has introduced a new, holistic, high-bar standard for agriculture certification Regenerative  Organic Certified™.

We offer Kiss The Ground web and in person presentations to schools and communities.

 

Hosting leaders in the international regenerative movement to a forum on Regenerative Agriculture in Beirut.

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Clove Valley Farm, New York

Our Impact

We want to help the Lebanese grow nutritious foods in abundance. Each successful farm project will set an example, helping to convince neighboring farmers to adopt our practices and join a thriving farming community. Each example will include detailed cost-gain financial data. This will help users scale their approach and help us track an improvement return-on-investment. As the program develops we will add data analytic tools that quantify hits, testimonials, and before and after videos documenting success.

From farms to rooftop gardens, regenerative agriculture can benefit any scale of planting and will provide the affordable nutritious foods that are desperately needed. With more people fed, a major contributing factor to Lebanon's civil unrest will begin to be addressed.

"The land of Lebanon itself, is a fruit and vegetable paradise, and this should become the trademark of the new Lebanon. To achieve this, Lebanon, must engage in a determined approach to clean up its environment and to rehabilitate the soil which has been destroyed by decades of chemical use."(Tracy Chamoun, Lebanese Ambassador to Jordan - Resigned after August 4th's catastrophic event.)

Let's bring fertility back to the Fertile Crescent.

Rows of vegetables between fruit trees.
Close up of figs hanging from branches of fig tree.

Les Racines du Ciel Farm - Lassa

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