Agriculture is the main livelihood in the municipalities of Oussat, Sahel El Qaytaa and Menieh, especially since Lebanon was hit by a severe economic crisis. The labour force in the area is mainly informal and low-skilled.
Following the recommendations of the municipalities, the team of MASAR – ACCD (the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation), implemented an Agricultural Demonstration project with the aim to:
• Increase the technical knowledge of the targeted farmers and cooperatives
• Support cooperatives and women association’s capacities in financial management and project proposal writing
• Increase income and employment opportunities.
• Increase the production share in the market.
• Facilitate the economic activities in the agriculture and agro-food sector, in particular by supporting social economy, cooperatives and women associations
The MASAR-ACCD team started with the identification of interested local farmers’ communities, cooperatives and women in agro-food processing. An agro-food training programme was organised for 2 olive cooperatives and 3 women associations in Majdala, Kobert Shemra, Wadi El Jamouss, Hmayra (Akkar), Merkabta and Deir Ammar. In addition, individual farmers and women outreached by their peers attended these training sessions. A total of 160 people were trained. The training covered the production of home-made food, how to preserve vegetables and the production of different cheese varieties.
Another training covered agriculture production including beekeeping, poultry, integrated pest management in greenhouses, nursery management, olive and olive oil, fruit and vegetables.
Cooperatives participated in a proposal writing training while they also received an intensive training on financial literacy and management for cooperatives. To enable putting in practice what they learned, the cooperatives received machineries such as olive harvesters, steel cooking kettles and compact fruit extractors.
Almost all agro-food processing trainees were women. Most of them are either members of an association or individuals trying to start new businesses, which will play a big role in income generation for their families in the near future. The skills and expertise that the women gained from the MASAR support has now been embedded in the cooperatives and women’s associations ensuring the sustainability of the newly acquired knowledge for the next generations of new members.