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Team Unity

We will support each other and make the most of each individual's contribution

Respect

We will treat each other as we would like to be treated

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Integrity

We will strive to be reliable, trustworthy, responsible and honest in our dealings

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Generosity

We will share our resources and time to help others

Excellence

We will strive to be leaders and excel at everything we do

Perseverance

We will continually innovate and apply our creativity in challenging times

Who We Are

Debbane Agri Holding sal is the Agriculture division of Debbane Saikali Group. Our drive for excellence is nowhere more apparent than in the agricultural domain, where we have been market leaders since 1952.

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Recent News & Articles

30

Jun

2021

GCO Activities and Events 

The most prominent activities of GCO, a company of Debbane for Modern Agriculture Ltd – Iraq, during the second quarter of 2021 include:

Preparing an internal control system to oversee the quality and efficiency of the technical work through the detection processes that precede and follow the work of the field team during customers visit.

Raising team performance by training ambitious and scalable staff to be at leadership levels or supervisors of field teams.

Adapting to the changes in an appropriate manner and according to the requirements of the current stage, the most important of which is organizing preventive sterilization process for Covid-19.

Adopting the professional and humane method in the sterilization process by approaching companies producing sterilizers for the purpose of applying them according to the scientific perspective during the sterilization course adopted by the company to prevent side effects during work, in order to preserve public health.

Adopting the initiative to provide free service to humanitarian and service institutions as part of a sense of responsibility, the most important of which is the preventive sterilization process for Covid-19 within the institutions affiliated with the Ministries of Justice and Interior and the offices of international missions in Iraq.

Including the sterilization service as an additional service of our company by registering it officially as Global Care Operations, Public Health Solution Pest Control Services Ltd, in addition to providing the necessary work requirements to adequately apply the process.

Committing to the standards and regulations set out by the World Health Organization (WHO) by starting to use pesticides and everything related to human health and the ecosystem.

Continuously communicating with relevant companies in the field of food safety in order to improve the level of services provided by us, especially within production sites and food preparation areas.

Rejecting any contracts or requests involving the use of materials or treatment processes that are outside the framework of the standards of the WHO or that conflict with the environmental protection laws.

Training technicians, supervisors, and engineers on an ongoing basis by involving them in courses organized internally or with the participation of the Ministries of Agriculture and Health.

Assisting international organizations operating in Iraq in consulting, technical support, and technical treatment.

Introducing new work methods that include safe control (mechanical and non-chemical), especially in production lines, to reduce risks to the lowest levels.

17

Dec

2020

Message from the CEO

Dear Partners,

2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year; a year that can be simply described as the “Survival Year”.  This is a time like no other in our lives.  We have faced demonstrations, streets unrest, devastating Covid-19 pandemic and of course hyper-inflation, eating our wealth away.    Yes, we faced all these catastrophic events, what if we top them up with the Beirut blast that turned our beloved city into ashes, sadly with lots of deaths and casualties. 

By no means I am trying to draw a dramatic image here; but I am rather showing how resilient we are as a team.  These challenges brought out the best in each and every one of us; and hence, we have emerged even stronger.  Our teams and head of departments have shown high level of commitment, and an exemplary perseverance that helped us stay afloat throughout the storms.  For all of these I am grateful.

Our 2020 results were not up to what we aimed for; but I can, with all confidence, say that we fought hard and we did our level best.  Our “Agility” strategy, we started adapting back in 2019 has been properly followed by everyone, and hence today Debbane Agri is geared up and better prepared, to face another challenging year 2021. 

The way we decided to face 2021 is to continue with our “Agility” strategy; however, and in-line with the Board of Directors’ directions, we will be launching several tactical development projects at some operations, and we will also start exploring new markets for expansion.  We always aim higher, and for brighter days.

Nothing of course can happen unless we continue as always working in harmony as one team: BOD, Management & Operations; while adhering to our Group values.

Finally, I would seize this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for an amazing job and outstanding contribution.  I would also like to thanks Messrs. Etienne & Fady Debbane for being always there for me, and of course the Board of Directors for their guidance and the overwhelming faith they put in me.

Wish you all Merry Christmas & Happy New Year                                                                                                                    

With respect and gratitude,                                                                                                                                                                 

     

John Fawaz

03

Dec

2020

Agrytech E-Hackathon

For the second year Debbane Freres supports Berytech Lebanon to launch the fourth edition of Agrytech Hackathon.

However, this year, the Hackathon is a bit different. It’s an E-Hackathon that was conducted online from 3 to 18 December 2020.

 

What is Agrytech E-Hackathon?

The Agrytech Hackathon is organized online by Berytech in partnership and with the full and unwavering support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Lebanon. 

This e-hackathon is an exciting opportunity to develop innovative solutions to real-life challenges using technologies such as Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the agri-food sector.

Throughout the e-hackathon, participants will receive the assistance of technical, industry and business experts, and will have access to the tools and hardware prototyping facilities at the  Berytech Fab Lab. 

The winners of the e-Hackathon will win valuable prizes and get the chance to be enrolled in Berytech’s Agrytech Accelerator Program. 

 

Who Can Apply?

You are encouraged to apply if you are an engineer, scientist, maker, creative, innovator, entrepreneur or a young professional who has an innovative solution or runs an early-stage agri-food startup that falls under the pre-set agri-food challenges (see below). 

Your solution – an idea or within an early-stage startup, needs to fall under the agri-food sector, solve one of the pre-set challenges and should include a tech component (Software, hardware, IOT). 

You can apply with your own idea as long as it falls under one of the pre-set challenges. Your solution should include an innovative process, product or service with the capacity to increase economical value and create job opportunities in Lebanon, solving one of the pre-set challenges below.

To participate you need to be a team of at least 3 people, preferably including one technical person. If you don’t have a team, no worries, you can still register, join the first phase of the hackathon, and find a team. The online hackathon is open for teams residing in Lebanon only.  

Anyone is encouraged to participate in next year’s challenge 2021 from today!                                                                                   

 

The Winners                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

The Final phase of winners’ selection was held online on Friday December 18th 2020 with the participation of many jury members including Debbane Freres General Manager Mr. Zaher Ballout as well as members from Berytech and others…

This edition, 4 winners were announced: Agrocedrus in the first place (prize is USD 4,500 and access to the Agrytech Accelerator Program), the second place went to Beekeepers and Collarvet (prize is USD 3,500 and access to the Agrytech Accelerator Program) while Pinemed received the third place (prize is USD 1,000. Agrocedrus, Beekeepers, and Collarvet received a golden pass to join the #AgrytechAccelerator. 

29

Nov

2020

Debbane Agri – International Labor Organisation

Sustaining the working communities in ahriculture through the development of the greenhouses structures and cultural practicies.

Funded by ILO, planned by CB, executed by Eq dpt.

The project took off by brainstorming meetings between ILO and DF. The target of ILO is to empower Akkar greenhouse farmers thus, sustaining the working communities whom lives are dependent of these plantations. Conclusive directions were taken and consequently implemented on field.

ILO took the initiative to completely fund two projects to be executed by DF. The project is to install two locations at two farmers’ place where new developed greenhouses spanning over half a dunum would be installed. 

The new greenhouse is a developed bi-tunnel structure with a vertical wall, front doors and semi-automatic side opening while nets would be present in case of the opening, an elevated height. The main outcome would be: Better inner micro-climate / Land optimization / Simple opening and closing daily operation

While Tripoly branch serves the area of Akkar in its technico-commercial activity and its agriculture supplying, the equipment dpt along with the crop manager back in the main office have planned and put into perspective the new greenhouse structures.

To moment, the greenhouses were successfully installed. They have been planted the same crop in comparison to their neighboring single tunnels and continuous readings are being done throughout the season.

27

Nov

2020

Together for a Sustainable Reforestation: Debbane Freres & Jouzour Loubnan

Debbane Freres was established in 1952, and since then the company has adopted a clear vision: 

“To be a leading innovative and trusted provider of quality agriculture products and solutions in growing Middle Eastern and African markets”. 

Driven by its belief and in line with its values ​​in supporting all environmental, agricultural and forestry activities in Lebanon and neighboring countries, especially after the multiple wildfires that hit Lebanon’s forests in the past months and in this context Debbane Freres is honored to collaborate with Jouzour Loubnan Organization and provide Agricultural Technical assistance through its Agri Engineers in order to support Jouzour Loubnan mission’s in in the restoration of Lebanese woodland and the promotion of a  sustainable reforestation

 

We look forward to a fruitful cooperation and to many more successes. 

In accordance with the company’s slogan, “Together for a better Agriculture”, today we say “Together for a Sustainable Reforestation” 

 

 

What is Jouzour Loubnan? 

Jouzour Loubnan is a non-profit organization, its mission is to participate in the restoration of Lebanese woodland and promote sustainable reforestation.

 

What are Jouzour Loubnan Organization’s goals?                                                                                                                                         

Plant towards sustainable forests                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Restore degraded forest ecosystems. 

Contribute to the development of the Green Corridor. 

Foster urban forests and agroforestry. 

Create and share new and good forestry practices through research & development. 

 

 

Engage the Lebanese in Reforestation                                                                                                                             

  • Raise awareness on the importance of forests and biodiversity.
  • Involve local communities in the protection and management of our planted forests.
  • Encourage Lebanese residents and diaspora to support reforestation.

01

Nov

2020

The Banana Panama Disease

Similar to the human kind, plants also fight for their lives against pandemics and global diseases.

The Banana Fusarium Wilt disease, described as Tropical Race 4 (TR4) and commonly known as the “Panama Diseases”, was first discovered in 1970 in Cavendish banana plantations in Taiwan. In Lebanon, it was first detected in 2015, and since then, it had been spreading and causing huge economic damages to Banana farmers across the South of Lebanon. 

For the past 2 years, the Technical and Crop Protection department in Debbane Freres, has been working alongside with the Banana experts in the team, to try and provide the best solution for Banana farmers in order to reduce the damages of this disease and increase their profits. 

In December 2020, the final results for a complete program used to control Soil Born Diseases came to be highly efficient in reducing the damages of the Panama disease.

The program is an alternation between the products available in Debbane’s pipeline: Velum Prime, Novo Treat and Trainer. 

Added to being efficient, this program is providing a healthy and environmental solution for the farmers, complying with company’s vision to spread and raise awareness towards ICM systems, for a higher quality and sustainable production, by including 2 biologically certified products and an innovative – low toxicity active ingredient from Bayer Crop Science.

The program is planned to be launched in February 2021 just before the start of the first application season.

20

Aug

2020

Ammiq – Open Day

This year and despite the tough conditions that our country is passing through, Debbane Freres have decided to organize open day events in Ammiq Trial Station on the 20th and 21st  of August 2020.

 

With the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Lebanon and all over the world, the decision was not easy, but Debbane team supported by the management was dedicated to make sure the event took place with two main objectives in mind: Staying in contact with main customers and insisting on providing new varieties to the market for the upcoming years.

 

All this while respecting safety guidelines to avoid contamination, and thankfully, none were present. 

 

The commercial team lead by Area managers, made sure to select target guests concerned with the successful varieties in Ammiq, chosen ahead of time by the Seeds Department in coordination with the technical department. The total number of invitees was 31, including 8 nursery owners, 2 dealers, 20 key farmers in addition to one supplier.

 

Upon arrival, all attendees were provided with a gift bag containing needed material in addition to a face mask and hand sanitizer in order to be used during the day.

 

Farmers were taken directly to the gathering area which had the display that contained all the interesting varieties to be viewed, Debbane team were briefed with all the information needed to describe the selected varieties and each engineer have taken the responsibility to lead his guests.

The farm or field tour was focused on bringing the farmers to the varieties selected and which have showed good results, in each plot blue attention signs were installed to grab the attention of the guests, engineers responsible took care of this and farmers were taken directly to the varieties of interest in order to have a look on them, take photos, pick some fruits and even taste them 

 

 

The total number of varieties tested from all crops was 347 and 31 varieties were selected, below is the selection from each crop including the commercial varieties:

 

  • OF-Tomato: New selection: 4 varieties / Commercial: 777, Meyameya, Prince, Waadia
  • GH-Cucumber: Commercial: Rani
  • Melon: New selection: 3 varieties / Commercial:  Samar, Maestro
  • Watermelon: New selection: 5 varieties / Commercial: Bolt, Rosalina
  • Onion: New selection: 5 varieties 
  • Sweetcorn: Commercial: Nour, Chase, Messenger
  • Squash: Commercial: Primo, Mared

 

 

As a conclusion, we have seen a lot of interest from farmers on the commercial and on the new varieties that were selected and it was clear that farmers are searching and are in need for having new varieties from almost all crops despite the hard situation that they are facing, for them agriculture is a passion. 

 

This event during this hard period of time have proved that Debbane Freres will always do its best to meet farmers’ needs and will always stand beside them during hard times. 

29

Jun

2020

Minister of Agriculture Visits DF’s Table Grapes

On June 29, DF client, Mr. Issam Habre and his brothers, welcomed the Minister of Agriculture, the General Manager at the Ministry of Agriculture, and MP Cezar Abi Khalil for a field visit to some of DF’s Turnkey projects in Bhamdoun, Mount Lebanon.

The farm is divided into 3 projects: Plastic-covered table grapes, strawberry mountain hydroponic greenhouse, and net-covered cherries.

The projects were planned by the Crops Department, implemented by the Equipment Department, and followed up on by the Crops Department and Zouk branch. 

All 3 projects have thus far shown good success, as the grapes are in full seedless production while the strawberries have yielded high profit, during the execution year and in the ones that followed. 

The cherries are expected to go into full production next year (Year 3).

The Minister stated: “We stand today in the middle of the vineyards, in the middle of a bankrupt country, watching the private sector and the youth rise through the ashes of a collapsed economy and create opportunities. Today, we are witnessing the results of a success story”.

For his part, MP Abi Khalil said: “As the MP elected to represent this area, I encourage farmers and the youth to go ahead and replicate this success story. We also call on the government to grant low interest loans and subsidize such projects.”

DF continues to strive in providing its farmers with the agricultural solutions they need for their own welfare. The projects are meticulously executed, with a great deal of tailoring and customization, to meet the specific needs of every area and location.

15

Jun

2020

A User’s Guide to Keeping A Green Thumb in Times of Crisis

The year 2020 has been an eventful year, but not in a good sense. So, how did we make it to June?

 

1- Box? What box?

During exceptional times, thinking outside the box becomes an essential adaptation mechanism in problem solving. This is definitely not the time to resort to the usual solutions; we must see opportunity at every twist and transform obstacles into opportunities.

 

2- We’re in this together

In times of social distancing, let us not forget that we are social beings. We can still ask others for help and, most importantly, we can respond to others in need of help. Following strict guidelines in times of crisis can often render us robotic; taking a minute to connect with fellow colleagues, farmers or the laborers we deal with on a daily basis is also part of the job.

 

3- Follow my lead

Taking the lead is not only just about being proactive and leading a team. It is also about what happens in the shadows. It calls on us to remain level-headed while delivering professionally.

 

4- No, time did not stop

It might seem like the world has stopped in its tracks and everything is frozen. It is in these exact moments that one should double down on time management, making use of the tools at hand, be it technology, creativity, or multitasking, in order to ensure work efficiency, productivity, and quality.

 

5- The path of least resistance

It is what it is; we are here right now. There is no point in dwelling on the past, where things were done in a more familiar way. The faster you adapt to the new reality, the faster you will be able to assess the obstacles and put a plan in place and execute it while focusing on the future and embracing uncertainty.

 

With that mindset, and by following the guidelines above, we were successful in meeting the deadlines of crop cycles, field days, and variety launches with as little disruption as possible.

Transporting seedlings across roadblocks during the revolution, social distancing, working from home, and managing even-odd circulation measures, nothing stood in our way.

 

On the bright side, we created a new type of field day: human-centered, socially distant and personalized to the specific needs of each visitor group. And against all odds, we were able to launch new varieties.

 

This is how we made it to June.

20

May

2020

Technical and Commercial Activities Organized in Babel Over the Past Few Months of 2020

1- A seminar was held on grape crops in Birmanah Region, which falls under the Hallah region, on 01/02/2020, in presence of major grape farmers in the region, as well as Babel’s Directorate of Agriculture and agent Ahmad Al-Saffar, along with the Debbane Agri team represented by Engineer Haidar, Engineer Saleh, Dr. Hussein, and Engineer Amir (Regional Director). The seminar tackled several topics, including the adoption of a good fertilization system to boost productivity, by using the Yara Complex fertilizer and Orgevit, as well as adopting a system for preventing fungal disease risks. A renown farmer was selected to carry out our company’s fertilization program, in order to compare this with his traditional fertilization process.

2- On 07/03/2020, the Debbane Agri fertilization program was rolled out on grape crops in the Birmana region. The Debbaneh team helped the farmer determine the fertilizer quantity, mix it, and pour it around grape trees. Likewise, the program also included ground and leaf fertilization, along with fungus and inspect control, as documented in the reports.

3- Agent Ahmad Al-Saffar was taken on a field visit to Birmana region, which is renowned for its grape crops. The visit took place on 23/04/2020 and was aimed at following up on the outcomes of Debbane Agri’s fertilization program on grape crops, in terms of productivity, vegetative growth, improving grape trees, and comparing between Debbane Agri’s fertilizer and other traditional fertilizers used by the farmer (i.e. DAP and Urea).

4- Agent Riad Ghani was given a private field visit to protected cucumber crops on 15/03/2020, to follow up on the outcomes of using Terrasol Magnum, Neutral Terrasol, along with Yara Complex fertilizers. The visit sought to compare with other competing fertilizers, in terms of quality and productivity increase.

5- Regular follow-ups were conducted on Italian Bora wheat crops, planted in the Babel region, from the moment they are cultivated until they are harvested. In addition, our team supervised the farmer’s fertilization process, and followed up on combatting the spread of bushed surrounding wheat plants.

6- Regular follow-ups were conducted on the new Arab and Byzantine wheat varieties, from the moment they are cultivated until they are harvested. In addition, our team supervised the fertilization process. Major wheat farmers and agent were also taken on field visits to observe these varieties.

7- On 20/05/2020, several agents and farmers were taken on a field visit to observe the Italian Bora wheat crops in several areas in Babel province, in order to compare them to other competing varieties, in terms of productivity, quantitative weight and resistance.

8- On 18/05/2020, during Ramadan, agent Riad Ghani was taken on a visit to the Debbane Agri Baghdad station, to observe the new planted varieties of Chili and sweet pepper, watermelon, melon, cabbage and tomatoes. The characteristics of these varieties were explained, along with the best timing for cultivation, the specific fertilization program for each crop, in order to guarantee increased productivity and an improved quality.

9- On 19/05/2020, a special visit was organized to the Babel Directorate of Agriculture, which included a meeting with Agriculture Director Mr. Khaled Al-Qarra Ghouli, to follow up on the handover process of the Bora wheat, before it is marketed by farmers. In an attempt to facilitate the marketing of this wheat variety to farmers, the Al-Halla Silo was visited, and a discussion was held with the silo director and seed examination lab director, whereby they were handed the official books related to the registration  of the Bora wheat, thus rendering the market process easier for farmers, without any obstructions in delivery.

10- On 20/05/2020, agent Riad Ghani was taken on a visit to view Debbane Agri’s original cucumber varieties in Nahiya region, and to compare it to other competing varieties in terms of quality and productivity.

11- Our team followed up on the Bora wheat harvesting process in several regions in Babel, calculated the amount of wheat produced per dunum and compared it to other competing varieties harvested nearby. Debbane Agri also took part in the harvesting processes carried out by several farmers and dealers.

24

Apr

2020

Message from the CEO during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

My Dear Colleagues,

 

There is no better way to start my word, but to build on, our Chairman, Mr. Etienne’s message of last week.  A message that further strengthened our trust & our loyalty into our group. A message that made us feel safer and protected by our big family, the Debbane family.

 

I can’t express enough how delightful and happy I am, and I thank god that you all & your families are safe from this dreadful virus, COVID-19, that turned into pandemic, hit the world and turned the lives of billions of people upside down.  For this end, I would like to seize this opportunity to thank all the leaders in our group, across all our operations and HQ, for putting in place the right protocols; and, of course, I thank you all for adhering to them, so you protected yourselves, your families and hence the group. Thank you!

 

We at Debbane Agri would like to extend our appreciation to our teams that have been at the front lines making sure that our business is sustained in these difficult times. The products and the services we offer are necessities to feed the world, and accordingly we have a huge responsibility towards the society. It is as important as saving people’s life.

 

In this uncertain time, the situation can feel scary, stressful and overwhelming to some of us.  This demands from all of us at Debbane Agri, to get more rooted to our core values driving our business since 1952:

Excellence, Integrity, Generosity, Respect, Team Unity and Perseverance.

Since that time, we have faced and seen many challenges, and have overcome them all.  TOGETHER, we will beat this one as well.

 

Now more than EVER, we need to be more perseverant and to work harder with positive energy, compassion, agility, and caring hearts. 

 

We are in this TOGETHER, Rest assured that we are and will be with you in every step of the way.

 

Coming Together is a beginning, keeping together is a progress, working together is success.

 

You are just doing GREAT

Keep on doing this GREAT job

Stay Positive

Stay Optimistic, for a bright tomorrow

Stay Safe

01

Apr

2020

ATO QUAT - Coronavirus Disinfectant

Whether to find a cure for an ongoing pandemic or to control a pest outbreak in the desert, the world had found itself again in the hands of scientists and research teams in continuous effort to provide the best solutions and technologies for our daily lives and agriculture practices.

Since the establishment of Debbane Freres, the company made sure that one of its main pillars would be the technical expertise of the team, backed with a technical department working on daily basis to provide customers with novel technologies and products to cope with the ongoing changes in the markets. This strategy proved itself efficient once again by providing the Public Health line, in a significantly short period, with a sanitizing product to be used do disinfect indoor and outdoor spaces against the ongoing CoV19- crisis: ATO QUAT.

ATO QUAT is a product based on quaternary ammonium (alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride 10 %) provided by ATOMES – Canada. Initially used to disinfect fruits and vegetables from all kings of bacteria, fungi and viruses, ATO QUAT is also used to cold sterilize medical equipment and kitchens. This is only possible due to the registration of the product under an official DIN ( Drug Identification Number) and the CFIA ( Canadian Food Inspection Agency ) food contact approval. Thus, ATO QUAT is safe to use in households and does not cause any allergies for people or damages to any type of fabric, unlike commonly used chlorine-based products.

Soon, Debbane Freres will be also providing the market with ATO QUAT 2 that has in it, added to quaternary ammonium, hydrogen peroxide which will increase the efficiency of the product and the protection period that it provides.

01

Jan

2020

Innovation towards Sustainable Agriculture: Achievements & Challenges

The exponential increase of the world population through time is heaping more pressure on the agricultural sector to produce food amounts enough to feed the world. There is a significant need for better water management and irrigation practices to increase agricultural production using the same amount of water, and even less. On the other hand, land resources are of equal importance and their use in a sustainable manner is a key factor moving forward.

 

How can the agribusiness sector contribute towards a sustainable future? More importantly, what kind of steps is Debbane Saikali Group taking in the right direction?

 

ACHIEVEMENTS

Hydroponics is defined as not using soil as substrate for crop production (FAO, 2020). The major advantage with such a system is the absence of weeds and other soil- borne pests, no toxic pesticide residues, better use of water, better control over nutrients and oxygen, and increased crop quality and yields.

 

Exotica

Exotica has been using the hydroponics system in its nurseries since 1998. Back then, Exotica engineers learned the advanced technologies of the new growing systems in Europe, imported them to Lebanon, and through continuous support from European experts till this day, they have been successful in maintaining and optimizing these systems.

 

Roses are grown in perlite, which allows growers to plant double the roses per square meter, providing a better economic return. Irrigation and fertilizers are supplied through automated systems, and water demand is determined through soil sensors in the growing media. This automated fertigation process, along with the controlled environment of the greenhouse, enables the growers to produce high quality roses that are uniform across the greenhouse.

 

Debbane Freres

Other than ornamentals, Debbane Freres has adopted hydroponics in the agricultural industry since the early 2000’s. Our trial station in Aadloun encompasses 12,000 square meters of hydroponically grown tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplants. The greenhouses have a controlled environment with respect to temperature, humidity, and irrigation. The main advantages of this system include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Up to 70% less water use
  • Significant reduction in pesticide use
  • More yield than conventional agriculture

 

Another advanced form of hydroponics, the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), has been adopted in the

Bouar trial station where we are growing lettuce. Similarly, advantages of NFT include, but are not limited to the following

  • Growing up to 4 times more lettuce per square meter
  • Delivery up to 10 seasons per year compared to a maximum of 5 season in traditional agriculture

Bouar station also hosts strawberries planted hydroponically in Rockwool, another inert mineral substrate. Achieving high yields and high quality fruits.

 

Other than hydroponics, Debbane is adopting new planting and cultivation methods in the grapes sector. With the idea originating from Italy, vineyards are grown under plastic film covers, in an effort to protect the vines during critical periods of adverse weather conditions, mainly hail storms, spring frost and hot wind storms in summer. Furthermore, the plastic film cover provides a better microclimate for the vineyard, allowing harvest time to be achieved earlier for early varieties, and later for late varieties.  In order for this cultivation method to be fully effective, Debbane secured the exclusivity of the best protected grape varieties from California to fit every segment of the market. We can now produce grapes from early June till end December.

 

Debbane Freres has already adopted the new vineyard structure in Bekaa, North, and most recently in the South of Lebanon where a 15 hectares vineyard has been installed at Wazzani. The project at Wazzani is finalized, with all the structures installed and covered, and all the grapes planted. Production is expected to start in 2021.

 

CHALLENGES

The idea of hydroponics has surely disrupted the traditional ornamental and agricultural markets, being able to provide higher quality produce, with greater amounts, at faster rates and most importantly while using less land and resources. So, why hasn’t Debbane been able to properly commercialize it on the national and regional scale?

Financing

Hydroponics projects have a significantly higher initial investment due to the multi-span structure, climate control, automated irrigation system, cost of substrate that needs to be changed yearly and others. Many farmers/investors refrain from venturing into an investment of such magnitude, especially that the Lebanese produce markets’ prices are continuously fluctuating. Moreover, the government does not subsidize such sustainable solutions to help and encourage the Lebanese farmer to invest.

The same applies for the grape’s projects, whereby the initial cost of investment is almost 5 times more than that of a traditional vineyard. With the current financial crisis and the uncertainty of the Lebanese economy going forward, the likelihood of selling such projects continues to be limited.

Mentality and Support

Like any innovation, the main challenge is the mentality of the target customer, which in our case is the farmer; very tough. Without solid facts and studies proving the efficiency and feasibility of our projects, it is very hard to market and sell projects.

 On the other hand, we have not been successful enough on our demonstration sites to present clear-cut data, proving that Hydroponically grown vegetables and strawberries yield consistently a better and more abundant crop than soil-planted ones. More focus and intensified work will be provided from our side, as we believe this is certainly going to be a technique to spread in the near future. We also need to build and train the teams who will be in charge of supporting the customers who will follow these techniques.

Steps moving forward

In order to tackle these challenges, we are taking several steps moving forward. Firstly, through trials, we are optimizing our structures in an effort to lower cost per square meter, therefore lowering the amount of initial investment required. Secondly, we are forming a committee that will be dedicated to sharing ideas and expertise in the aforementioned innovative solutions, which also serves the purpose of lowering and optimizing the operational expenses of these projects. Finally, we continue to expose ourselves to innovations and developments through seminars, fairs and exhibitions, whereby we can learn from outside knowledge, adapt what we learned to our resources and capabilities, and provide the market with tailor made solutions.

Through innovation and technologies, Debbane continues to strive in the face of the agricultural challenges in the region, while aiming to optimize land and water use and provide farmers with holistic agricultural solutions towards a sustainable future.

20

Apr

2018

Debbane Agri Holding Sponsors Agrytech Hackathon 2018
Under the Patronage of the President of the Council of Ministers H.E. Mr. Saad Hariri and supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Berytech Lebanon organized the second Agrytech Hackathon on the weekend of April 20th, 2018. WHAT IS AGRYTECH HACKATHON? The Agrytech Hackathon is a fun and engaging 3-day event, that brings together makers, innovators, entrepreneurs and young professionals from various backgrounds. In 48 hours, teams work on a solution for a challenge in the agri-food sector, prototype it and then pitch it to a panel of judges to have the chance to win cash prizes as well as the chance to join the Agrytech Accelerator program. THE WINNERS AND THEIR CHALLENGES IO Tree, represented by Christina Chaccour and Nisrine El-Turky, coached by Debbane Agri Technical and Development Team, Ziad Ghanem and Gilbert Medawar won the first place and a prize of $6,500 at the Agrytech Hackathon 2018. IO Tree is a startup that designed a machine connected to a wireless sensor network that monitors the presence of the red fruit fly and inform the farmer when the best time to spray is. The team had a functioning prototype to demonstrate in front of the judges and audience and will now have the chance to take their startup and idea to the next level. Winning the first place allowed IO Tree team to be pre-selected to join the second edition of Berytech’s Accelerator Program that started on June 2018 for a period of 1 year giving the winners access to up to US$100K in support and grants. There were two winners for the second place, team Agry Mac with Abbass Al Hajj, Elie Said, Marc-Halim Matta, and Engema Succar – an application that will detect and/or predictillness in trees soil and plant and team Zaatine with Sarkis Khatecherian, Nshan Karoghinanian and Fadi El Hajj – a machine that solves the challenges of separating Zaatar leaves from the stem. They won a shared prize of $4,500 and are also pre-qualified to attend the boot camp part of the Agrytech Accelerator Program. We look forward to participating and supporting continuous innovative and brilliant ideas. We wish as well the Agrytech Accelerator Program participants especially IO Tree team coached by Debbane Agri Technical and Development Team the best of luck in their upcoming challenges.

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