In the villages of Ghazza and Mansoura, near the Ammiq wetland (Lebanon’s major Ramsar Site), more than 50 dairy cattle farms are dumping their runoff and cow manure directly into the Litani river and waterways surrounding the wetland. The farmers in that area refrain from using the cow manure on their agricultural lands for fear of weed seeds and bacterial contamination, and they prefer to use chemical fertilizers.
As part of a micro-project funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM), and coordinated by Tour du Valat, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) organized a training session on ‘composting for limiting pollution inputs to Ammiq Ramsar Site’.
The main objective of the project is to reduce or stop the practice of dumping cow manure into waterways leading to Ammiq wetland through teaching local dairy farmers how they can use thermal composting to turn the cow manure into grade A compost free of weed seeds and harmful pathogens.
Fourteen persons attended the training, held on 28th May 2020 in the newly established Homat el Hima International Center in West Bekaa. The session was conducted by Maher Osta, the SPNL’s wetland expert, project initiator and manager.
Based on the pilot results at Taha farm, this session was the first of a series of four training sessions on the importance of wetland preservation and how to transform raw cow manure into grade A compost, targeting dairy cattle farmers nearest to Ammiq and the Litani River.
The training presented a prime opportunity for the dairy farmers to learn how to use the tried and tested “Berkeley Method” of thermal composting to produce a grade A compost that they can sell or use on their agricultural land instead of chemical fertilizers.
During the training, the dangers of pollution to the waterways in the West Bekaa region, Ammiq Wetland, the Litani river, and the Quaraoun lake were emphasized, highlighting the importance of those areas for biodiversity and as a stopover and resting place for migratory birds.
During a field visit, the attendees visited the nearby village of Mansoura where they witnessed firsthand how the thermal composting of cow manure processtakes place, and how cow manure can be turned into grade A compost instead of being left to pollute the important waterways in the area. They also observed the results of using compost to regain the fertility of the land and grow vegetable crops without any use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides.
It is worth noting that the project will also provide assistance to the farmers in their marketing, in order to help them make money from selling their composted cow manure, in order to ensure the continuity of the project (around 40 people involved).
The presentation of Maher Osta is available here.
Maher Osta, SPNL
Mediterranean Wetland Observatory (MWO), Tour du Valat