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Nabatieh market benefits 400,000 Lebanese residents, including around 8000 fruit and vegetable producers

The Nabatieh Vegetable Market Inauguration took place on the November 15, 2016. This project has been implemented to work towards the alleviation of poverty by focusing on agricultural constraints and supporting the farmers. With the Nabatiyeh fruit and vegetable market in place, farmers will no longer have to commute to other areas in Lebanon in order to sell their products. This will not only lead to a reduction in transportation costs, it will also provide easier access to a market where farmers can showcase their products. The direct interaction between the consumer and farmer will help the farmers adapt their products to the market demands and ensure that they are able to correspond to consumer needs.

The market will benefit more than 400,000 Lebanese residents, including approximately 8000 fruit and vegetable producers within the governorate of Nabatieh. Farmers will have access to the market free of charge, and consumers will be able to buy high quality fruits and vegetables at a reduced price. Instead of travelling long distances to Saida or Beirut, a spacious market in their own village provides farmers with a practical means by which to share and sell their produce. They will also have access to agricultural inputs such as irrigation networks, agricultural roads, and marketing outlets for product processing.

Mohammad Darwish, a farmer from Western Zaoutar, Nabatieh, believes it will be extremely beneficial to have a unified market where the farmers come from the same areas and sell at unified prices. He also believes that the new market will facilitate the work by offering new spaces to display and sell their crops.

This project is a joint Initiative between UNDP, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Municipality of Nabatiyeh. It was implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Lebanon, and was funded by the Nabatiyeh Municipality and the Lebanon Recovery Fund (a Lebanese Government led programme established at the Stockholm Conference in 2006).

Philippe Lazzarini, the UNDP’s Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, highlighted the fact that the agricultural sector is a main source of income, particularly for the poorer population in rural areas. Many of Lebanon’s poorest families depend on agriculture as a primary source of income and employment. Mr. Laazarini is confident that the market for fruits and vegetables will sustain and strengthen the agricultural sector in the governorate of Nabatieh.

Dr. Ahmad Kahil, the Head of the Municipality of Nabatieh, also has high hopes for this project and believes the city of Nabatiyeh’s ability to successfully market its products will increase day-by-day.

The Ministry of Agriculture will launch departments to provide the farmers of Nabatiyeh with training and guidance. These departments will indirectly assist the farmers and answer their questions, thereby contributing to boosting the agriculture sector as a whole. In addition, other departments will establish agricultural cooperatives that can provide assistance to the unions, allow farmers to distribute their products throughout the entire year, and monitor the life cycle of the products, as well as their origin, quality, and quantity. These departments will provide farmers with all that they may need to overcome problems during these turbulent times.

Hussein Haj Hasan, the Minister of Agriculture, believes that the project has an important impact on many levels, particularly with regards to civil planning, the environment and its cleanliness, the services being offered to the farmers and consumers, as well as the reduction of an economic and geographical gap that currently exists between the farmer and the consumer.

Mounir El Meallem, a Farmer from Kfarruman, Nabatiyeh, believes that this project will make things easier for the farmers in the area. He believes that the ability to sell their products at the market will be much more efficient since there is a shorter distance to travel in order to sell crops.

The Nabatiyeh Market Project is the first initiative of its kind in Lebanon, and the farmers - along with the Ministry of Agriculture and other sponsors of the project - have positive expectations and are optimistic about the project’s positive outcomes in the future.

The city of Nabatiyeh consists of four main cazas, the largest in South Lebanon. A study published by UNDP in 2009 shows that the engagement of households in the agricultural sector results in the highest rates of extreme poverty in the country. This city lacks the facilities needed to enhance the market linkages to local farmers and this hinders the positive economic returns that can eventually be achieved.
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