Description of pilot area
The study area is located in the Bekaa valley in Eastern Lebanon, with elevations between 850 to 1000 m above sea level. The Bekaa is far about 30 km east of Beirut and is situated between Mount Lebanon to the west and Anti-Lebanon Mountains to the east. It is characterized by a semi-arid climate, typically dry Mediterranean, with unpredictable rainfall and current droughts. The region receives limited rainfall, particularly in the north, with an average annual rainfall of 230 mm, compared to 610 mm in the central valley and more than 850 mm in the Western part.
The dominant agricultural soils are red Mediterranean soils, with calcareous parent material and are intensively used. They are among the most productive soils. Agriculture is considered one of the most productive in the region, however, the valley is experiencing several issues such as soil degradation, climatic change, water scarcity and high demographic increase. In addition, it is facing a pollution issue due to several reasons such as industrial activities, the usage of untreated wastewater and solid waste disposal in water sources mainly in the Litani River that is a major source for irrigation.
The main irrigated crops grown are cereals, legumes, vegetables and some fruit trees and vines. Winter cereals are produced under supplemental irrigation while spring/summer vegetables are cultivated under full or deficit irrigation (depending on the availability of water). The increasing water scarcity in the valley constitutes the main driver threatening farmers to use less water on food production. In the valley, traditional irrigation scheduling, based on the farmer’s knowhow, is the norm. Abstractions from groundwater are also dominant in target area. High amounts of irrigation from surface water are also noted. Irrigation consumption is to be reduced, by improving irrigation efficiency and optimizing on-farm irrigation techniques.