Small scale farming occupies a crucial role in the lives of the rural poor: it is their social security fund. Research by a team from the
In addition to enhancing the livelihood of the poor, small scale farming renders services to the nation at large. Small scale farming preserves the integrity and typicity of the Lebanese landscape. Without farming, ours would be a desolate, degraded and dry environment. It is farming, rather than forests, that makes it green. Lebanese forests cover only 6% of the total territory, while olive groves cover another 7%, and fruit trees a further 7%. Together, they add up to 20% which is what is commonly recognized as an acceptable figure for tree cover in a country.
Where small scale farming has declined, the result has been the dilapidation of the landscape.
Local farming is not only esthetically pleasant, it is important for food culture and for health. Due to decades of poor food policies based on the encouragement of imports, Lebanon's food habits have changed. Lebanese cuisine is widely acknowledged to be healthy and tasty, and to share the life-prolonging benefits of Mediterranean cuisine. There are Lebanese restaurants in all major cities of the world, and they promote
Thus, in addition to serving as a social security fund, small scale farming is also vital for environment, culture and food heritage. Yet, successive Lebanese governments have failed to take action to preserve and protect rural life. Instead, they have declared agriculture a non-viable sector, and have deliberately marginalized it. There are socio-political reasons to this neglect, and they have been discussed elsewhere.