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World Vision, USAID tout aid for local organic agriculture

World Vision and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrated on Friday the achievements of a three-year project that helped hundreds of Lebanon's farmers by growing organic agriculture in Lebanon.

"We are proud for having created, and not just enhanced, the organic agriculture sector in Lebanon, which has positive impact on the environment, the economy and the health of the consumer," said project manager Nabil Maalouf.

More than 4,500 people benefited directly from the Sustainable Agri-Business Initiative for Lebanon project, 800 of whom are farmers from Bint Jbeil, East Sidon, Marjayoun, the Bekaa Valley, North Lebanon and Beirut. The project focused on developing BioCo-op Lubnan, a national organic agriculture farming cooperative.

USAID provided $7.8 million funding over three years to identify and develop specialized organic agriculture practices; provide state-of-the-art processing, packaging and storage facilities throughout Lebanon; and put in place the marketing and other services needed to bring Lebanese organic farm products to market.

Through the SABIL project, Lebanese farmers were able to earn organic certifications and sell their produce at higher prices than conventional produce under the local brand name Campagnia. Some organic Lebanese products have also been exported to Europe and the Gulf.

"The journey of the organic farming sector under the program was not easy, yet despite the many challenging times, what was achieved in Lebanon by the program and its partners in the past five years has taken other countries at least a decade," said USAID official Christine Sayegh.

World Vision and USAID worked with several Lebanese partners to implement the project, including the Litani River Authority, the Lebanese Agriculture Research Institute, the Gebran National Committee, and the Holy Spirit University Kaslik's faculty of agricultural sciences.

Beirut 22-09-2008
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The Daily Star



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