By Anita Bourdin

“The grave economic crisis Lebanon is going through, aggravated also by the COVID-19 pandemic, has witnessed the multiplication of spontaneous initiatives of people that for the first time are cultivating small plots of land, including in urban areas, to produce foodstuffs,” explained the Vatican Agency Fides (Gianni Valente), on June 3, 2020.

The Church announced her “direct support of initiatives launched by associations of the sector geared to offering assistance and orientation in particular to young people who are returning to agricultural activities, in order to ensure for themselves and their families food supplies in this period of crisis.”

Fides reported the intervention of Patriarch Rai: “In the course of yesterday, June 2, the Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, also took part in the opening meeting of the project of agricultural formation entitled “Land of Your Treasure,” promoted by the Green Lebanon Club Association, and reserved for young people interested in developing initiatives of agricultural production. The initiative, which enjoys the patronage of the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture, is also supported by the Diane Foundation for Sustainable Development of Saint Joseph’s University of Beirut, run by the Society of Jesus and the Maronite Patriarchal Center for Human Development.

Patriarch Rai also appealed to expatriate Lebanese, inviting them not to lose their roots, preserved also by taking up agricultural activities, carried out according to criteria of environmental sustainability. A household that loses the mother of the family becomes difficult to bring together,” said the Cardinal, reminding them that if “we lose attachment to our homeland, it will then become difficult for us to meet as Lebanese. Therefore, we are encouraged to take care of our land.”

Father Tawfiq Bou Hader, Director of the Maronite Patriarchal Center for Human Development, described the community initiatives to return to work the land by young people as an “equally important sign in connection with their desire to rediscover the link between their identity and the treasures of their nation,” added Fides.

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