Agricultural worlds in the Levant: questioning current patterns

Version française

In analyzing current politics of the Middle-East, two major risks could potentially lead to a desultory understanding of the situation: disconnecting topicality from the historical context and placing a prescriptive gaze on them. The French Institute of the Near-East (Ifpo) attempts to palliate by offering contextualized analysis, rooted in the implicated fields. Its network of analysts produces research, while deepening talks with the societies of the relevant countries.

These cycles of mini-webinars of the Ifpo are aimed at establishing instances of exchange, so as to be informed regarding contemporary politics and current issues that affect the region. The various branches are located in the heart of the Near-East (Beirut, Amman, Jerusalem, Erbil) and have always been major crossroads for Arabic and French academic research in the Levant. Their presence enriches the current intellectual production of and about these countries, and for decades has offered a key point of observation to the specialists of the region.

Image credit: Nicholas Seeley

Arab countries are today amongst the most dependent on food imports in the world. Yet after obtaining national independence, the majority of these countries considered agriculture as a strategic economic sector, both for reasons of internal stability and in order to maintain political independence (Blanc, 2012). The Green Revolution of the 60s and the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) of the 90s’ radically changed the agricultural apparatuses: they are now more and more embedded in a global market economy. This has vaste implications for Arab societies in terms of livelihoods of rural communities, urbanisation, and food security.

In the Levant, water scarcity and demographic pressure are often evoked to substantiate the decision to neglect national agricultural production and rely on the global market to ensure food security. However, different types of crises have called attention to the limits of the current model. If environmental concerns have been on the table for decades, other events have contributed to accentuating fears concerning the sustainability of the food system. The increase in food prices, particularly worrying during the 2007-08 food crisis, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic and most recently the Lebanese economic crisis, raise questions concerning the possibility of ensuring food security in a context of dependence on food imports.

These discussions will be an occasion to exchange views concerning the agrarian questions in the political, as well as social and economic contexts of the Levant. What are the limits highlighted by the overlapping crises that affect the different countries of the region? How does water scarcity impact agriculture, and what are the debates surrounding this issue? What are the implications of the influence of international aid and rentier economic schemes typical of many Arab countries? How do livelihoods evolve within a rural world increasingly embedded in global capitalistic dynamics?


Livia Perosino (Ifpo Amman)

Simon Dubois (Ifpo Amman)


Wednesday September 15th  14:00 (France time) / 15:00 (Beirut & Amman)

Palestine – Agriculture under occupation: between agribusinesses and escalating violence

Speakers: Moayyad Bsharat (Economic and Social Development Department’s Director Union Of Agricultural Work Committees – UAWC) and Fadia Panosetti. (Université libre de Bruxelles)

Moderator: Julie Trottier (CNRS)

Conference will be held in English

To attend the webinar:

Meeting ID: 987 3331 0542

Passcode: 757920

Entering the passcode is required to access the webinar.

Wednesday September 29th 14:00 (France time) / 15:00 (Beirut & Amman)

Jordan – Extreme food dependency: a path towards food sufficiency for Jordan?

Speakers: The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN) and Livia Perosino (Ifpo)

Moderator: Isra’a Mansour

Conference will be held in English.

To attend the webinar:

Meeting ID: 964 2056 3167

Passcode: 990586

Entering the passcode is required to access the webinar.