STORY: This Lebanese couple has turned to farming amid soaring food prices
Qassem Shreim used to be a builder
Now he and his wife Khadija grow their own vegetables
[Qassem Shreim] "I used to employ eight to ten men. Now, I can no longer employ a single one of them because I, myself, am not working, I am not able to find any work. We were very confused at first, we couldn't work so what did we do? We turned to agriculture.’’
Shreim learned how to set up greenhouses by watching YouTube videos
"I planted wheat, barley and lentils. I planted watermelons, and once the watermelon season finishes, we will plant mallow, and once mallow season finishes, we’ll plant 'makdous' (small eggplants). There are products such as grapes, we buy and sell them, the things we are missing, we bring what we are missing from someone else."
Food prices have increased 11-fold in Lebanon since 2020
Source: World Food Programme
The cost of fuel is also too high
for the Shreims to take their produce to markets in Beirut
so they sell their fruits and vegetables locally instead
[Khadija Shreim] "My house here is very far from the village. I have a group (on Whatsapp) with all the women I know, they call me the 'mukhtara' (mayor) of the village here, I know everyone in the village. I created a group and I send the prices daily, every morning at 9:00 a.m."
[Qassem Shreim] "Thank God. Agriculture makes one steadfast, it’s better than sitting around doing nothing - either not earning any money or losing money. I won’t go back to my old job, I won’t move backwards. I want to continue, farming has a future. Of course, I am thinking of expanding my cultivation."