USAID’s Support to the Agriculture Cooperative of Saidoun Enables Annual Local Market Festival and Enhances the Livelihoods of 119 Farmers
The Saidoun cluster of southern agricultural villages is comprised of five towns — Deir Qattine, Hidab, Rimate, Saidoun, and Sanaya — which, together, are home to around of 3,000 residents, including 300 Syrian refugees. The local agriculture cooperative supports farmers through initiatives such as distributing seedlings and facilitating irrigation. As a result of the ongoing economic crisis and consequent devaluation of the local currency, the cooperative and its farmers have been struggling with a significant increase in production costs and unavailability of equipment in the local market, leading to growing communal tensions over income-generation opportunities.
In response, the USAID-funded Community Support Program (CSP) provided in 2022 the cooperative with five rotary cultivators, two trailers, nine mechanical pruning shears, six mechanical olive harvesters, and other needed material to enhance efficiency and decrease production costs for 119 farmer households. CSP also installed a prefabricated room to ensure the equipment’s safe storage and trained cooperative members on equipment operation and maintenance, storage management, and bookkeeping. CSP’s support also facilitated collaboration between the cooperative and Saidoun Municipality to initiate a farming festival to sell local agricultural products. The success of the first farmers festival in August 2022 prompted Saidoun to make it an annual event.
On August 11, 2023, the Municipality of Saidoun and the cooperative held their second annual farming festival. Attended by 600 residents from Saidoun and surrounding villages, the four-day event showcased the USAID-provided equipment and its services. The farming festival also generated $2,000 for the cooperative and $3,000 for farmers in terms of sales of produce. This activity is improving the livelihoods of more than 119 local small-scale farmers and improving agricultural production.
“This annual event wouldn’t have been possible without USAID’s support. The cooperative was established in 1968, and it wasn’t until we received this equipment that we were able to establish a platform to help farmers enhance their income”, said Charbel Khawand, Head of the Saidoun Agricultural COOP.