Development of organic agriculture: national meeting of the ORGANIC ECOSYSTEM project in Lebanon
The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Zahle and the Bekaa (CCIAZ) launched the National meeting of the ORGANIC ECOSYSTEM, in presence of the General Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Eng. Louis Lahoud, and the General Director of the Chamber, Mr. Youssef Geha, on Saturday 25 July 2020, within the framework of the project “Boosting cross border Organic Ecosystem through enhancing agro-food alliances” funded by the European Union within the ENI CBC MED program. A number of interested parties joined the meeting along with others through video conferencing in order to respect the rules of social distancing.
Mr. Youssef Geha welcomed all attendees and stressed on the importance of the cooperation with the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture, which works diligently, vigorously and perseveringly for a better future of the Lebanese agriculture. He stated that this important healthy agricultural development project for consumers is among the most prominent strategic objectives of the Chamber of Zahle and Bekaa in terms of protecting agricultural sector from pollution, greater access to markets and strengthening communication with foreign countries.
Eng. Louis Lahoud announced that the Organic Agriculture Law had been approved, which was considered a dream in the circumstances the country is going through, and that the Ministry of Agriculture is in the process of establishing a national committee for organic agriculture, which should start its activities in August 2020 with the aim of following up the implementation of the laws related to organic farming. Also, he stressed the need to work on the marketing of organic products in various Lebanese regions through farmers markets in order to sell products without going through intermediaries, and wished that Zahle city would be the first city that applies organic farmers markets in the Bekaa region.
Then, Engineer Said Gedeon - Project Coordinator explained the objectives, work plan and mechanisms that will be adopted to assist farmers, producers and workers in the organic agriculture production value chain through:
- Encouraging the establishment of organic farmers' groups, and developing their capabilities through a series of training sessions on good agricultural practices in order to obtain certificates in organic agriculture.
- Linking local institutions and companies with agricultural producers and providing necessary services, which will contribute to increase organic agriculture markets.
- Strengthening organic agriculture extension services in each partner country in order to train farmers, receive adequate financing and support for organic institutions in order to provide good products and stimulate market growth.
Engineer Pauline Eid - responsible of the organic farming programs at the Ministry of Agriculture stressed the importance of the Organic Agriculture Law, which was recently approved, in terms of protecting the actors in this sector and enumerated the steps that must be completed to ensure the best implementation of the law.
As for the CEO of Biomass, a leading company in organic agriculture, Mr. Mario Masoud, identified the concerns of the organic sector and the need for networking among all parties in order to create a task force and increase the number of organic agriculture investors and beneficiaries in order to cover the growing needs of markets.
Eng. Fady Abu Fayad presented the survey questionnaire that the project is conducting in order to identify the needs of the actors within the organic value chain and providing technical assistance and guidance accordingly. He requested from the organic value chain actors to sign the agreement letter in order to benefit from the project activities.