The Lebanon Hydroponics Project is Growing Strong

March 5, 2024

Lebanon is experiencing acute food insecurity in its third year of devastating economic and political crisis. According to the World Food Program, 46% of Lebanese households are food insecure.  Malnourishment has also become a significant concern, with around one in three children suffering from stunted growth. 

Many affected Lebanese are now facing unimaginable levels of suffering while trying to get their hands on life-saving medication and food supplies. In the face of this humanitarian emergency, innovative solutions are needed to increase access to nutritious and affordable food. 

International Relief Teams has partnered with a local grassroots organization to develop a pilot program called the Lebanon Hydroponics Project to grow vegetables locally, utilizing a hydroponic garden.

This project aims to build more hydroponics greenhouses and offer a practical and sustainable solution to address the food crisis in Lebanon

Why Hydroponics?

Hydroponics, at its core, is a method of cultivating plants without soil. Instead, plants are suspended in a nutrient-rich water solution, generating much higher crop yields than conventional agriculture.  Such high yields are exactly what Lebanon needs during this time of shortages.

The hydroponics greenhouses can be set up in urban areas, where space is limited and unused rooftops can be utilized. Taking advantage of space through hydroponics can increase a farm’s output by a factor of 15. Recapturing run-off water not taken up by the plants and reusing it can save up to 95 percent of the water they use. This creates a sustainable, affordable, healthy, and local food supply, as well as added nutritional value added to their diets. 

In addition, hydroponics greenhouses can be managed with minimal labor, and automated systems can monitor the plant’s growth and adjust the nutrients and water levels accordingly. This reduces the need for manual labor and allows for higher productivity and efficiency. These crops can be sold at lower prices than imported vegetables, providing affordable and nutritious food for the local community. 

Benefits of Hydroponics in Lebanon

Implementing hydroponics in Lebanon holds many important benefits that extend beyond addressing immediate nutritional needs. The method's resource efficiency is particularly vital in a region where space and environmental conditions often hinder traditional farming opportunities. 

By using hydroponics, Lebanon has the opportunity to reclaim unused urban spaces, turning rooftops into thriving greenhouses that defy the limitations of weather, pests, and diseases.

Other benefits include:

  • Year-Round Cultivation: Lebanon's diverse climate poses challenges to traditional agriculture, leading to seasonal fluctuations in food production. Hydroponics transcends these limitations, allowing year-round cultivation in controlled environments.
  •  Water Conservation: In a region grappling with water scarcity, hydroponics presents a water-efficient alternative to conventional farming.
  • Environmental Resilience: By reducing the reliance on traditional farming practices that contribute to soil degradation and water pollution, hydroponics promotes a more sustainable and eco-friendly agriculture model.

International Relief Teams Hydroponics Project

The intention of International Relief Teams is that all the produce of this hydroponic greenhouse will be distributed to needy families we already serve. The locally grown, nutrient-rich crops will be donated to supplement the food parcels we are already distributing, adding fresh vegetables to prepared meals. 

We have seen from the pilot project the benefits of fresh produce being added to a diet struggling to intake enough calories. The nutritional benefits of fresh produce can be seen in the reaction of families and beneficiaries. For most Lebanese, they are limited to a grain-based diet, so fresh vegetables grown locally in their surroundings have had a great morale boost effect. 

This project will also create job opportunities for residents, particularly women and youth, who have been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis. The hydroponic greenhouses not only promise a consistent and diversified food supply but also represent a tangible step towards self-sufficiency and community empowerment.

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