Lebanon Businessnews News

Opportunities for women
in agriculture in Akkar
Collective work increases production and helps penetrate new markets
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Several opportunities for women in Akkar were identified in the International Labour Organization (ILO) report ‘Potential Opportunities for Women Economic Empowerment in Akkar in the Potato and Leafy Green Vegetables Value Chains’.

The report surveyed over 50 men and women in the Akkar region, and mapped “gender roles and responsibilities along the value chains, and determined the benefits derived from women’s participation.”

The first opportunity was spotted in dried leafy greens, mainly mint, thyme, coriander, and mulukhiyah, perishable vegetables that lose their quality immediately after they are harvested, decreasing their market potential. The report said that women in Akkar can expand their work in drying, freezing, packing, and labeling these vegetables, enhancing their quality and quantity.

A second opportunity is in ready salad mixes, pre-made soups, and ready-to-eat processed food. This opportunity could begin with local distribution and expand to supermarkets and restaurants. New varieties could be introduced and the production of suitable vegetables could be widened.

Increasing regional and global demand for frozen French fries presents another opportunity for Akkar women, in frozen potatoes. As women in Akkar are already involved in post-harvest activities, this opportunity could add value to their produce and minimize surplus, which doesn’t get sold.

There is also an opportunity to expand women’s opportunities in potato chips which are produced in the Akkar region. A community enterprise or a collective could link women to potato chips producers or to supermarkets and convenience stores.

There is opportunity in improving post-harvest procedures for improved products. Women are involved in the post-harvesting of potatoes, but capacity building could improve procedures and result in higher quality potatoes. All post-harvest procedures would be addressed, including handling, storage, packaging, transportation, and marketing. Increasing capacity allows women to have supervisory roles on post-harvest activities.

According to the report, women’s cooperatives can help expand production and access new markets. Collective work would empower women to influence decision making and obtain better prices, as formal groups are generally more recognizable.

Safe and acceptable venues for production and processing allow women to improve the quality of their products, and offer centralized locations to share knowledge and expand their activities.

The report indicated that access to finance is a major challenge facing agricultural workers in Akkar, particularly women. One of the main barriers that small-scale farmers face is insufficient information about financial products, which hampers their ability to make the right decisions.

ILO recommended establishing women’s cooperatives and associations, as well as tailored training and extension programs for women agricultural workers. It also recommended improving access to finance, and increasing the focus on research and assessment in projects.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Oct 03, 2018