In light of the current situation - as Lebanese traders struggle to pay for imports of a variety of goods including food products, as vulnerable communities struggle to pay their food, as small- scale farmers are stuck in poverty trap - the importance of local food system today rises more than ever. The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) in partnership with the Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB), the Food Heritage Foundation and Ziko House are currently consolidating “Ardi Ardak”, a national food security initiative which aims at reviving food security sector by focusing on small scale holders with a special emphasis on rural women.
This project is linked to REEF (Rural Empowerment & Entrepreneurship Forum, an online platform aiming to link relevant stakeholders and developmental agencies, share knowledge, and develop joint developmental strategies) to ensure connections of all stakeholders. The material documented as well as the tools developed under this project have all a great potential for scaling up to communities within rural settings throughout Lebanon. The dissemination of the initiatives results and the promotion of the producers will be done through the partners’ social media including Karianet, an online MENA regional network platform hosted by ESDU for the management and sharing of knowledge, information and experience in agriculture and rural development and which is based on open-access principle ensuring broad access to and usage of information.
Aim Of The Initiative
Ardi Ardak is a network of initiatives that base on two main pillars:
- Promoting Access to Markets
Initiatives under this pillar offer small- cale producers access to marketing channels and offer urban consumers access to healthy local produce. Initiatives include promoting local produce through a central kitchen which would provide its raw material from ESDU’s network of community kitchens and small producers, mobile outlets, farmers markets, food trails promoting local producers through rural tourism, Food and Roots online platform promoting climate- smart produce and sustainable producer and new marketing channels to be identified.
- Promoting Self-sufficiency
Initiatives under this pillar offer consumers the chance of becoming the producers of their own
food through urban agriculture and community gardens which both can have considerable
impacts on the micro-environment and household consumption hence enhancing food security at
household and community levels.
- Community Supported Initiatives
The different initiatives under Ardi Ardak are characterized by their “community-supported”
approach providing urban consumers and the private sector the opportunity to engage in
fostering the local food system and supporting small-scale rural producers. These initiatives are
based on mutual commitments between producers and a community of supporters hence
providing a direct link between the production and consumption of food and fostering food
sovereignty. They are organized in a way to inspire communities to work together with their
local producers, provide mutual benefits and reconnect people to the land where their food is
This network provides women, who are among the most vulnerable groups within their
communities, special consideration throughout its activities. Women are key stakeholders having
significant impact on sustainable management of natural resources, sustainable farming practices and livelihood strategies, promotion of food security, and ensuring healthy successful
generations. By building women’s capacities in agriculture and agrofood processing and in
business development through ESDU and LLWB capacity building projects, this initiative tends
to promote women empowerment, decrease gender inequality and improves nutrition status as
women play an important role in promoting food security at the households’ and communities’
levels. Providing women access to knowledge and to the market would promote their decision-
making power and offer them the potentials to invest their skills in new livelihood strategies
fostering their economic empowerment.
- Linking Innovation to Traditional Production
This initiative promotes innovation applied to traditional agro-food productions, aiming at
introducing innovative food production and combining between product innovation and
authenticity, making production processes more sustainable and strengthening the linkages
among producers, markets and consumers.
This initiative fosters sustainability by promoting organic farming techniques and adopting
environmentally friendly practices in the production and the marketing process. In addition, by
reducing import dependencies and fostering local food systems, this initiative reduces the carbon
footprint. Building the capacities of this network’s beneficiaries, through ongoing ESDU, FHF
and LLWB capacity building projects, fosters local people to take action on issues themselves
and promotes sense of ownership and empowerment so that beneficiaries gain greater control
over their development. In addition, by having full ownership of their initiatives (e.g. urban
agriculture system, community gardens, community kitchens linked to Akleh), beneficiaries are
further encouraged to invest (effort, time and resources) to ensure the success and sustainability
of their plans.
Ardi Ardak Initiatives
Lunch boxes are prepared in Akleh Central Kitchen (incubator kitchen). Raw material is provided from ESDU’s network of community kitchens and small producers.
Each “tanjara” you buy will provide a similar “tanjara” to a vulnerable household.
Food is prepared in Akleh Central Kitchen (incubator kitchen). Raw material is provided from ESDU’s network of community kitchens and small producers.
- Herbal Kitchen Kit – Aroma
Urban agriculture (planting in balcony, on roofs, in spaces available in urban areas) fosters household self-sufficiency.
- Souk Al Souk (Farmers’ Market)
Farmers market supporting small scale producers and promoting authentic healthy products.
- Community Gardens– Jnaineh
Gardening activity overtaken by people living in the same commune, neighborhood or street, aiming namely at securing their food.
- Visiting Keepers of Darb el Karam - Mechwar
Food tourism network proposing thematic packages by harvest seasons where visitors can participate in picking and preserves making activities and eat at the houses of small-scale food producers and in tables d’hôte where they enjoy local culinary specialties.
- Community Supported Outlets (for marketing & distribution) – Khayme
Mobile outlets for the promotion and marketing of products from small-scale producers
- Mouneh Basket –Cedar Basket
Linking Lebanese diaspora to producers by sending them local products.