In 1953, Dr. Samuel Edgecombe, the first Dean of Agriculture at AUB, carefully selected a plot of 100 hectares of land for AUB's new Advancing Research, Enabling Communities (AREC). This land was located in the heart of the Beqa'a Valley, a region with high levels of poverty and largely dependent on agriculture. AUB's goal was to develop a center for students, faculty and local communities to collaborate and create innovative solutions to agricultural problems that were affecting Lebanon, the Middle East and the wellbeing of its citizens.
Since its creation, AREC has facilitated many notable achievements, including the introduction of modern poultry production to the Middle East, new wheat and barley varieties, organic farming to Lebanon and a commitment to biodiversity conservation for Lebanon. Today, AREC remains one of the regions' premier academic centers catering to the needs of students, faculty, researchers, and communities and addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time, including the environment, development and the sustainability of rural livelihoods. But AREC’s greatest achievement remains its contribution to the education of hundreds of young men and women who have gone on to become leaders in their fields.
Increased collaboration with the private sector, including sharing equipment and expertise is helping local farmers increase crop yields, with added benefits to local dairy production. Numerous centers at AUB are taking advantage of AREC’s special location to study things like climate change, drought and water management. AUB’s Nature Conservation Center is active with a native tree nursery, and producing their essential oils. ICARDA who has recently relocated its staff from their previous location in Aleppo is using AREC to produce and send specialized, drought resistant seeds to over seventy countries in Africa and the MENA. AREC seed bank has recently greatly expanded by ICARDA with the addition of a large number of cereal and legume seed stocks collected from the region. AREC is reaching out more than ever to support local needs including Syrian refugees, collaborating with AUB’s CCECS and AUBMC in addition to NGOs such as UNICEF.