CSP Enhances Annual Production and Revenue of the Majdel Aanjar Agriculture Cooperative
Majdel Aanjar, a vulnerable town in the Beqaa Valley, is home to a large population of Syrian refugees, whose number equals that of Lebanese residents (23,000 Lebanese and 23,000 Syrians). The town is served by a local agricultural cooperative, consisting of 40 women and ten main board members, nine of whom are women. The cooperative supports local farmers by purchasing their raw harvest, producing goods – such as pickles, jam, and dairy products – and selling them to consumers. Unfortunately, Lebanon’s economic crisis has hampered the cooperative’s ability to modernize its outdated and inefficient equipment, thereby limiting its production capacity, purchases from local farmers, and the women members’ ability to maximize their earnings. This has fueled communal tensions over livelihoods and income-generation opportunities.
In response, between December 2021 and February 2023, the USAID-funded Community Support Program (CSP) upgraded the Majdel Aanjar cooperative by providing it with commercial equipment such as stoves, ovens and freezers, vacuum packing machines, and fruit and vegetable dehydrators. Additionally, CSP installed a water pump to improve the cooperative’s access to water and rehabilitated the facility to ensure food safety and ventilation requirements. CSP also trained all cooperative members on the operation and maintenance of the provided equipment, cooperative governance, bookkeeping, business planning, marketing, food safety, processing, and branding and marketing.
During the 2023 agricultural season, the Majdel Aanjar Cooperative introduced several new product lines, including three pizza sauces and processed beans, and significantly expanded production of other goods, including tomato paste, apple vinegar, dried mint, and rose jam. This intervention, has improved the livelihoods of 40 women cooperative members, enhancing their annual income by an estimated $200 USD – a significant increase considering the average monthly income in the village is around $40. Additionally, this intervention has enabled the cooperative to almost double its annual profits from around $270 (LBP 24,330,000) in 2021 to around $500 (LBP 43,788,000) in 2023 so far.
“USAID’s assistance has not only enhanced our skills as cooperative members, but also significantly boosted our motivation and empowerment. We have improved the quality and quantity of our products and enhanced our financial abilities to effectively support our families during these challenging economic times.” said Fatima Saleh, Majdel Aanjar cooperative member.