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Empowering Rural Women in Lebanon through Dairy Production and Processing


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in Lebanon, organized a launching ceremony of the project “Enhance the Livelihood and Food Security of Vulnerable Lebanese Women through Improving their Dairy Production Practices and Supporting their Dairy Processing Activities” at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Aley on April 27, 2016.

The project, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), was launched under the patronage and presence of His Excellency the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Akram Chehayeb and in the presence of the Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation in Lebanon Mr. Gianandrea Sandri, the representative of FAO in Lebanon, Dr. Maurice Saade, and the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture Eng. Louis Lahoud, in addition to representatives of municipalities and local officials and personalities.

In his speech, the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture Eng. Louis Lahoud said that “the milk production in Lebanon does not meet the Lebanese consumer’s needs and covers only 25% of domestic consumption of dairy products, but this sector has an active role in the national economy especially on the level of food security; this sector also encourages rural families to settle in their villages for it provides them with the basic income in addition to direct and indirect labor”.

The FAO Representative in Lebanon, Dr. Maurice Saade focused in his remarks on FAO interventions in the dairy sector in Lebanon, saying, “between 2009 and 2014, FAO executed three projects with specific support to small-scale dairy farmers; 300 villages were reached, 34 producers’ associations were established, 4000 direct or indirect beneficiaries were reached by capacity building, 80 technicians were trained on artificial insemination , 350 women were trained on improving milk handling and processing and thousands of milk equipment were distributed. As a result, FAO intervention has contributed to a significant quantitative and qualitative improvement of the milk produced all over the country”.

The Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation in Lebanon Mr. Gianandrea Sandri highlighted the significant role that women play in household food security, dietary diversity and children's health. Mr. Sandri stated: “We are particularly eager that the project, next to small farmers, will include at least 50 % women leading households active in the dairy sector. In Italy, women cooperatives played an important role as a production model during this last economic crisis and I really wish for a synergy between Italian and Lebanese farmers cooperatives in the framework of this project”.

This project aims to assist and improve the living conditions of small farmers in poor rural areas, especially those hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, as it covers all Lebanese governorates except the capital, Beirut, where 40 villages were selected based on the poverty and vulnerability indicators set by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The project targets 400 vulnerable beneficiaries; half of them are women dairy processors. The project activities include training women on dairy processing techniques and on hygienic and disinfection practices, in addition to training livestock owners on improved animal husbandry and the production of high quality milk. The project focuses on the safety and quality of the dairy products in order to enhance the profitability of small dairy farmers as well as the protection of consumers.

According to unofficial estimates, more than 12,000 families derive part of their living from livestock breeding and milk production and processing. The agriculture sector in general, and the dairy sector in particular faces many challenges, including high prices of fodder, low import price of powder milk and illegal imports of dairy products. Small-scale farmers and women who work in cattle breeding and milk processing at the household level are the most vulnerable.

Italy enjoys a close partnership with FAO, having been the host country of the Organization’s headquarters since 1951. With a long history of technical cooperation with FAO, today Italy is one of the largest voluntary contributors to FAO’s budget, supporting a variety of activities to achieve food security and poverty reduction.

FAO Near East - 27, Apr 2016

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