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Watch: A Rehabilitated Smart Nursery in Lebanon Sustains its Community
A smart nursery at the University of Balamand in Lebanon benefits students and sustains the community.

With the support of the USAID Lebanon Investment in Quality (LINQ) project, implemented by Venture37, the University of Balamand in Akkar, Lebanon rehabilitated and upgraded their nursery to better serve the farmers in the surrounding 14 villages who rely heavily on their produce for survival. This new high-tech nursery enabled the university to plant high-quality, disease-resistant seedlings and improve farmers’ vegetable production, while also benefitting its students with trainings and improved agriculture knowledge.

Transcript 

Dr. Rodrigue Balaa, Director, Agricultural Value Chain Development Center: "Nearly 10 years ago, we mapped out a strategic plan for the University of Balamand campus in Akkar to become an agricultural hub and serve as a center of excellence for smart agriculture. USAID believed in our vision, which aligned with their vision. Through the Lebanon Investment in Quality (LINQ) project, we brought this vision to life and created the smart nursery. It is able to sustain our community by providing farmers with high quality seedlings and it is able, at the same time, to provide our students with an opportunity to put into practice the theoretical information acquired, particularly in the field of Smart Agriculture.

This smart nursery will produce around 350,000 seedlings per cycle, which is around two to three weeks. Since the University of Balamand is a non-profit educational institution, the University of Balamand does not seek to generate any profit. The goal is to serve the community, the farmers, and the agriculture sector.

Today, we are facing an unprecedented crisis. For the past two years, the farmers have been dealing with high seedling prices in the market. Instead of buying high-quality seeds, farmers are opting for seedlings of lower quality and cheaper prices, resulting in high diseases and increased expenses. The University of Balamand doesn’t only work on the academic level, we realized that there is a need for us to provide support on the agriculture and community levels. This is the least we can offer to the community that we are part of."

Abdel Rizzak Deeb, Agricultural Engineer: "I have recently graduated, and just like my young peers, I was worried about finding suitable job opportunities, especially in these difficult times. With the support of USAID, the University of Balamand offered me a job.

This opportunity allowed me to stay in my hometown, Akkar, instead of seeking employment in other agricultural areas or moving to Beirut to make a living, or even leaving the country, like most Lebanese young people, to escape these hard times. As an Agricultural Engineering student, the knowledge I have acquired is mostly theoretical. However, this nursery allowed us to integrate theory with application and get hands-on experience while studying."

Dr. Rodrigue Balaa: "We can say that this is a successful project, but this is the beginning of a longer and broader collaboration with USAID, whether through the LINQ project or through other projects in the future." 
 

By USAID Lebanon Investment in Quality (LINQ) project 01/11/2022