Lebanon Businessnews News

Project to boost northern agriculture
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The International Labour Organization (ILO) has launched ‘Enabling Job Resilience and Protecting Decent Work Conditions in Rural Communities Affected by the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Northern Lebanon’ project to support farmers.

ILO allocated around $1 million to finance the project. The Italian Development Cooperation will finance around $450,000 for implementation. Annabella Skof, Chief Technical Advisor of the project said that they are looking for more funds from donors.

The project aims to create productive employment through local economic development and sustainable enterprises in northern communities affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. Agriculture in the North employs the majority of the local working population.

The project’s main objectives are to improve labor market intermediation and to increase income generation and employment creation within agriculture value chains.

“ILO is working with farmers and across the agricultural value chains to find the main constraints and why farmers are not earning the profits required,” said Skof. Most farmers in the North adopt the potato agriculture. Skof said that the main constraints are in the production and marketing phases.

Farmers are paying high production costs because seeds and fertilizers are expensive. Skof said that the need is in supporting the production cycle through lowering the cost of seeds and fertilizers. Another problem facing farmers is marketing their crops, especially after closing the land cross borders due to the Syrian crisis.

A specialized team will be providing training in rural areas in the selected agricultural value chains.

Skof said that the project will be helping farmers to export their crops to European countries. An agreement was signed previously with the Italian government to export around 50,000 tons of potatoes. But Skof said that exporting to Italy is not feasible as demand for potatoes is shy and the prices there are very low. This situation will prevent farmers from competing in Italy. Skof said that ILO will help farmers penetrate new European countries, mainly the Netherlands.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
Date Posted: May 22, 2015
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