- Title: Despite the financial crisis, small farmers see hope in new Lebanese initiative
- Date: 9th July 2020
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CO-FOUNDER OF FARMING E-COMMERCE SITE, NICOLA GHOLAM, SAYING: ''I basically work in rural development and nowadays I am the cofounder of Mawsam which is an e-commerce website which links the products of small-scale producers which are in rural areas to households, businesses and restaurants in Beirut." VARIOUS OF FARMERS CARRYING FODDER AND FEEDING SHEEP HERD SHEEP VARIOUS OF FARMER PAUL AKL AND SON ON LAKE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FARMER AND OWNER OF AIN EL AKL FARMING BUSINESS, PAUL AKL, SAYING: ''You cannot do everything on your own at the same time and this is why when the guys told me about this idea I agreed immediately because I know that on my own I will not be able to do everything. So my job is to produce, and to produce the best quality. If I'm producing, how I can market? I don't have time. Either I take care of the production and someone else does the marketing or at some point there will be a weakness (in the business)." VARIOUS OF AKL AND SON WALKING IN FIELD (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FARMER AND OWNER OF AIN EL AKL FARMING BUSINESS, PAUL AKL, SAYING: ''I give them a high quality quality product and they give me good marketing, it means we are both working and we have both helped each other.'' MORE OF AKEL AND SONS IN FIELD APPLES ON TREE MORE OF AKL AND SONS IN FIELD LAKES IN AAKOURA FIRE UNDER POT WITH JAM IN IT VARIOUS OF GERMANOS STIRRING CHERRIES IN POT (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CO-FOUNDER OF FARMING E-COMMERCE SITE, NICOLA GHOLAM, SAYING: ''Initiatives like Mawsam and others are needed by the market, society needs them, and the economy needs them as well. They might not be able save the entire economy (from the crisis) but it can alleviate (the suffering) that comes with it because there are lots of families who depend on it, families that have been farming for 20 years.'' OWNER OF GUITA BED AND BLOOM AND PART OF PRODUCERS' NETWORK OF MAWSAM, GUITA GERMANOS, SORTING THROUGH VEGETABLES (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CO-FOUNDER OF FARMING E-COMMERCE SITE, NICOLA GHOLAM, SAYING: "We consider the crisis more of an opportunity than a problem with this respect (farming). It is not easy but we are trying our best so we can benefit and make others benefit too.'' VARIOUS OF MAWSAM CO-FOUNDERS TALKING NEAR FIELD VARIOUS OF FARMER AND BED AND BREAKFAST OWNER, PHILLIPE GERMANOS, WALKING IN FIELD (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FARMER AND BED AND BREAKFAST OWNER , PHILLIPE GERMANOS, SAYING: ''As I said, the idea is very good and it is online and more and more people nowadays are more comfortable with online buying. In the past, people were used to going to the shop and seeing the product before buying. Now if there is trust in the product, people can buy it online.'' VARIOUS OF CHERRY JAM BEING PREPARED AND PACKAGED (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FARMER AND BED AND BREAKFAST OWNER, PHILLIPE GERMANOS, SAYING: ''Of course we support such initiatives as much as we can, maybe they cannot all succeed but at least they try. If you look back at the history of Lebanon in crises, it was going back to the rural areas and its richness with soil and water and weather that helped it get through. One can surpass a lot of problems if they start making projects in the rural areas whether they are touristic or agricultural.'' VARIOUS OF FRUIT ON TREES
- Embargoed: 23rd July 2020 15:31
- Keywords: Coronavirus Egypt Eviction Health Migrants Refugees Sudanese Umemployment
- Location: AAKOURA, LEBANON
- City: AAKOURA, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA003CM38FO5
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Nicolas Gholam, co-founder of e-commerce website Mawsam for local produce, is helping small-scale, sustainable and eco-friendly farming to support farmers and help consumers find affordable products around Lebanon at a time of unprecedented financial hardship.
Mawsam, which means ''season'' in Arabic brings local producers in direct contact with consumers who are looking for locally-sourced products at a fair price.
Customers who are looking for fresh vegetables or home-made jam can simply browse the online market place and place their orders.
So far, Mawsam created a network of 30 producers selling 330 products from fresh vegetables, jam, honey and soap in the past three months.
Over the past months, the Lebanese economy has been in melt down with the local currency losing as much as 80 percent of its value against the dollar in the blackmarket.
More Lebanese have had to turn to charities or private initiatives to survive. Even those who can afford to buy food have had to rethink how they spend whatever precious money they have as the country faces a crisis on an unprecedented scale but without a clear solution in sight.
Talks with the International Monetary Fund IMF over a possible bailout have stalled. The government has little other ideas about how to resolve the crisis.
But even if they find themselves alone and without government help, Gholam, his partners and the farmers believe this is an opportunity to change consumer habits and improve the quality of life of farmers in rural areas.
''Initiatives like Mawsam and others - the market needs them, society needs them, the economy needs them. They might not be able save the entire economy (from the crisis) but it can alleviate (the suffering) that comes with it," Gholam said.
One farmer and guesthouse owner says regardless of whether or not it succeeds, the initiative is a sign of going back to the roots in difficult times.
Lebanon depends heavily on imported goods for which prices have soared. The government has also hiked the price of subsidised bread, sparking protests this month.
A World Food Programme report in June found that 50 percent of Lebanese feared they would not have enough to eat.
(Production: Imad Creidi, Ahmad El Kerdi, Alaa Kanaan, Ayat Basma)
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