TYRE, Lebanon: Dozens of agricultural workers scatter around fields of fava beans, plucking the pods and preparing the vegetables to be sold at market.
The latest heavy rainfall has sped up the ripening process, says farmer Adnan al-Mohammad, so that the country’s fava bean harvesting has kicked off in the southern parts of the country.
Planting the fava beans is a prosperous enterprise on the coast, especially in Zahrani and Tyre lands. Mohammad owns five dunams of land planted with fava beans and says the work starts at the beginning of October, when farmers plow the land and plant the seeds.
Mohammad imports his seeds from Italy – a species of the bean he praises – for LL12,000 per kilo. One kilo of seeds yields half a dunam of bean pods, which need a few months to ripen.
“After that we harvest and sell in the market,” he says.
The market price per kilo ranges between LL2,000 and LL2,500.
But after just one week, the price begins to steadily decrease to half that, as the beans come into season around the country.
The workers on one of these farms spread out among the fields are filling their vessels – boxes and buckets – with the pods to be repacked later.
Umm Moharam, a migrant worker on the farm, says that picking fava beans is relatively comfortable work, especially when “life is full of troubles.”
Her son holds the bucket for his mother and agrees.
“After all, what’s important is to make a good living,” he says.
A vital step in raising healthy crops is spraying the bean saplings with pesticides and fertilizers without delay, the farmers say.
Mohsen Saad owns several dunams of fava bean crops in the southern village of Adloun.
During this period of the country’s fava bean season, the beans come from the southern parts of the country, then crops begin to ripen in Zahle and then on the Damour plain, Saad says.
The Damour plain yields the largest production, which causes the prices of the fava beans to plummet when they enter the market.
Thankfully, countries like Jordan don’t export their products to Lebanon, Saad says, or else the price would drop even more.
Fresh fava beans are a daily dish in Lebanese kitchens: stewed with onion and olive oil for a hearty breakfast or paired with meat or rice for dinner.
Many Christians use the heavy bean dishes as a substitute for meat during Lent, which starts Wednesday and when many strictly abstain from eating meat.
And as the prices decrease, so the street vendors of Sidon will begin to sell the beans from their carts boiled and roasted.