the online initiative from a French farmer

A French farmer in Aisne, northern France, has launched a social media campaign to harvest wheat to support the victims of the August 4 explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. His video has been viewed more than 60,000 times since its publication on August 10, prompting other farmers to join the movement. Despite the main characters’ enthusiasm, transporting and storing wheat to Lebanon turns out to be complicated.On August 10, Vincent Guyot, a grain farmer from Aisne, posted a video on Twitter to promote his support campaign. In the excerpt, he calls on Julien Denormandie, the French Minister for Agriculture, and the Franco-Lebanese journalist Léa Salamé to continue the campaign.

I am ready to donate lots of wheat to Lebanon. But I, a simple grain farmer in northern Aisne, do not have the operational means to organize this chain of solidarity. Help me to organize it so that we can do something concrete for this country.

In the first video, French farmer Vincent Guyot calls on French farmers to donate a tonne of wheat to be collected for the benefit of the victims in Beirut.

Posting a tweet is easy. Carrying out a humanitarian operation is very different “

The farmer keeps his followers informed of the campaign’s progress through the hashtag #UneTonnedeBlePourleLiban. Vincent Guyot explains to the editors of France 24 Observers:

I am a farmer and wheat producer. From my point of view, this donation campaign is more concrete than giving money. Today we have started to communicate about it, but the operational phase has not yet seen the light of day. I hope next week will be the case. It is easy to publish a tweet, but carrying out a humanitarian operation is very different. It takes longer. This year between 29 and 30 million tonnes of wheat was harvested in France. However, the French domestic market consumes only 15 to 20 million. The harvest of this wheat for Lebanon should not be a problem for the French market.

As the campaign is still in its early stages, it is difficult to estimate the amount of wheat to be harvested. About ten days after the publication of his first video, Vincent Guyot’s project is still waiting for government support. The farmer claims not to be able to transport several tonnes of wheat from France to Lebanon on his own, a journey of more than 4,000 km.

Jean Yves Le Drian and other politicians are tagged in this video published on August 17.

“Many farmers in my region have written to me because they want to take part in the initiative”

Régis Desrumaux is a dairy farmer in Oise. After watching Vincent Guyot’s video, he promised to donate lots of his wheat to the campaign. He tells :

I was shocked to see what was happening in Beirut. When I saw Vincent Guyot’s appeal on social networks, I told myself that we had to contribute. Our job is to feed people. It’s always easier to give [de sa récolte] when you are a producer. One tonne of wheat can help much more than one euro. Many farmers in my area have written to me because they wanted to participate. We are still in the first phase [de la collecte], back to box one.

“We also need help rebuilding food storage cells”

Dr. Serge Zaka is a Lebanese agronomist living in France. He fled the civil war in Lebanon with his family in 1991. He retweeted Vincent Guyot’s publication to draw attention to the campaign.

The countryside is interesting because wheat is really a staple in Lebanese food for making flour and bread. I am not worried about the transport conditions as we are in France and we are used to transporting wheat. But you can not just send wheat anywhere, anyway. Many silos around Beirut were destroyed by the explosion.

It is important to provide several types of wheat. We make bread with some varieties and pastries with others. We must therefore ensure that wheat donations are diversified. We can not only provide wheat for bread because people also need other varieties of wheat.

Lebanon also needs help to rebuild food storage cells and regain some independence. This is a priority that must be considered before sending large quantities of food. Meanwhile, silos can be made in Cyprus to store wheat, for example.

As a Lebanese, I am very pleased with this campaign. I have a doctorate in agrometeorology and studied in France. Basically, I’m Franco-Lebanese. I came to France for my studies and to escape the civil war in my country. Through this campaign, I feel that I am giving something back to Lebanon, even from a distance.

At present, the arrested French politicians have not yet joined the campaign, but Vincent Guyot continues to publish updates on social networks via the hashtag #unetonnedeblepourleliban. You can follow the campaign and contact the farmer on his Twitter account @ Guyotvincent02.Article written by Sophie stuber.