In light of the current socio-economic crisis, the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) at AUB – in partnership with the Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB), the Food Heritage Foundation and Ziko House, launched the Ardi Ardak Initiative during a workshop that was held in AUB on February 28, 2020.
Ardi Ardak works on offering small-scale producers access to knowledge, resources and marketing channels, offering urban consumers access to local healthy produce, and promoting sustainable eco-friendly agricultural practices and innovative food processing linking innovation to traditional authentic production. Ardi Ardak approach is based on community supported initiatives which provide urban consumers and the private sector the opportunity to engage in fostering the local food system and supporting small-scale rural producers. It also focuses on gender mainstreaming by helping women promote their decision-making power and offer them the potential to invest their skills in new livelihood strategies thus fostering their economic empowerment.
The workshop started with an introductory note by Dr. Shadi Hamadeh, director of ESDU, followed by a welcoming note by Dr. Rabih Mohtar Dean of FAFS. Mrs. Asma Zein, president of LLWB talked about the importance of empowering rural women, while Dr. Hania Hammoud, Executive Board Member at the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) presented the state of Land tenure and Access to Land under the Lebanese Law and the opportunities that these provide for the agriculture sector. Her talk focused on the factors that hinder access to agricultural lands in Lebanon and the legal means that can help facilitate access to these lands.
Ardi Ardak initiatives were presented by Mr. Nicolas Gholam from ESDU, and Ms. Sarah Karam highlighted the alignment of these initiatives with ESDU activities and projects. On the other hand, Mrs. Patricia Kebbe presented Zico House as community based agri-food hub, and Dr. Yaser Abunnasr, LDEM Chairperson, presented the Community Garden that will be established at the FAFS ECO-UNIT.
The FAFS ECO-UNIT will be a showcase for sustainable agro-ecological practices and will be a prototype of integrated agricultural, landscape, conservation, and food practices. It will expand the educational, research, and community outreach activities of the faculty within AUB; at the same it will disseminate knowledge outside the University.