Jobs for Syrian refugees through innovation in horticulture in Lebanon

Published on
November 29, 2017

Water in Lebanon is scarce and accordingly it becomes increasingly difficult to get sufficient water of acceptable quality. This spring a project has been launched to increase water use efficiency in horticulture and to increase production levels. This project contributes to a more sustainable food supply and jobs for the many Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Demo Greenhouse under construction

Wageningen University & Research has just started with the construction of a demo greenhouse in the Bekaa Valley as part of this project. The greenhouse is constructed at a research site of the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute. Last summer a greenhouse has been designed which is affordable for local growers and which is based on the local climate conditions.

This adaptive greenhouse has full side wall openings for a better ventilation then the traditional tunnel. Insect netting reduces the risk of pathogens and decreases the use of pesticides. In early spring a passive heating system provides better growing conditions due to higher night temperatures. The new greenhouses have options for both soil and soil less cultivation. In this demo project we can show three steps of innovation compared to the traditional tunnel with soil cultivation: a traditional tunnel with soil less cultivation, an improved tunnel with cultivation in soil and an improved tunnel with soil less cultivation.

The innovations will lead to lower water use, less pathogens and higher yields. The higher yield are expected to lead to a higher demand for labour and thus more jobs for Syrian refugees. The Lebanese greenhouse constructor Robinson will finish the construction before winter if the weather conditions are favourable. We hope to be able to show the first results to growers in early spring.

The project is being implemented in Lebanon in partnership with the business unit Greenhouse Horticulture of Wageningen University & Research and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.