At its twelfth session, the Khalifa International Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation Award in Abu Dhabi announced five winners out of 141 candidates representing 28 countries around the world who received 3.5 Million Dirham. The Climate Smart Livelihoods Initiative and Market Access Tailoring “CLIMAT" project won. CLIMAT is a one-year Food For Training project implemented during 2019 in Northeast Baalbeck and West Bekaa Lebanon, funded by the German Cooperation through the World Food Program. It was managed by the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit ESDU at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut AUB in partnership with Cooperation without Borders CWB. CLIMAT aimed to sustainably improve the skills, capacities and livelihood opportunities of vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugees in the targeted regions through enhancing the capabilities of women, youth and farmers on sustainable agricultural practices and food processing, in addition to providing the necessary tools and creating marketing links.
In an interview with Professor Shady Hamadeh, director of ESDU, he considered that in light of the harsh social and economic conditions of rural communities in Lebanon, and in line with the mission of ESDU to promote weak rural livelihoods and food security, CLIMAT was implemented to address high poverty rates, food insecurity and sustainable improvement of skills, capacities, and livelihood opportunities. Professor Hamadeh stresses the continuation of work, in addition, to the enhancement and expansion of the project to other regions to achieve a full impact on the standard of living through maintaining support services provided based on the research needs of the local population. Indeed, he expresses his happiness at this achievement, which was the result of the long and tireless efforts of a working group that strived to achieve the vision. It is worth noting that the ESDU is a multidisciplinary research and development center specializing in rural community development, local food systems, and sustainable agriculture hosted by the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences FAFS at the American University of Beirut AUB.
The project covered three valuable chains: small ruminant production (such as wool and carpet production, dairy processing, herd management and pasture management), alternative and climate-smart crop production and agro-food processing. It reached 829 direct participants, women and youth farmers, and 4,145 indirect beneficiaries in the relevant community networks. The project's choice to win this international award is due to the significant social, environmental, economic and educational impact on the targeted communities. According to Professor Shady Hamadeh, the impact can be summarized on three levels: “First, the achievement in building capacities for improving food security in light of social and economic conditions and climate change; Second, creating a strong infrastructure for the participation of sustainable and independent communities in small business; Third, establish linkages and improve the value chain efficiency in order to improve the effectiveness of the agricultural innovation system."
The winners will receive their prizes during a ceremony that will be held at the seventh session of the International Forum for Innovation in Agriculture at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center on August 31, 2020.
About the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation:
The Khalifa International Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation Award was established with the aim of promoting and encouraging agricultural innovation and date palm research studies and their spread in the world, and appreciating those who have made significant contributions in this field from individuals and institutions. The award was designed to contribute to stimulating experts, researchers, scientists and farmers to innovate and develop the agricultural sector.
The Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation is an independent and neutral award granted annually to prominent scientists and producers, influential personalities and institutions, which has contributed to the research and development of the agricultural sector and date palm.
Its mission: To create a positive environment that stimulates creativity and innovation in the agricultural field, honoring the winners and appreciating their efforts that contribute to enhancing food security and achieving the goals of sustainable development in the world.
the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU):
The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) was founded in 2001 at FAFS-AUB as a grassroots outreach interdisciplinary Research and Development (R&D) center specialized in sustainable agriculture and rural community development. ESDU has established a strong base in rural sustainable livelihoods, participatory resource management and community-based initiatives drawing on the resources of a wide variety of donors and partners. Since its inception, it has managed to establish itself as one of the major trend-setters in R&D in the MENA region, mobilizing large grants and managing major regional networks such as KARIANET on knowledge management in rural areas. ESDU is currently hosting and supporting the thriving RCODE master (Rural Community development MS program at FAFS) and is serving as the FAFS engagement and outreach unit. ESDU has served as an incubator for the local food system and it established the Food Heritage Foundation that aims at preserving and reviving Lebanese local knowledge and traditions around food.