`U.S. Program Provides Hand Tools to Olive Oil Producers in Lebanon

Africa / Middle East

U.S. Program Provides Hand Tools to Olive Oil Producers in Lebanon

Mar. 11, 2015
Isabel Putinja

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One thou­sand olive pro­duc­ers in Lebanon recently attended a mechan­i­cal har­vest­ing work­shop orga­nized by the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (USAID). Par­tic­i­pants included rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 18 part­ner coop­er­a­tives and 60 com­pa­nies from across the coun­try.

The work­shop was part of a five-year project of the 41.7‑million-dollar Lebanon Indus­try Value Chain Devel­op­ment (LIVCD) project financed by USAID which aims to improve eco­nomic sta­bil­ity in Lebanon by encour­ag­ing small busi­nesses and cre­at­ing jobs for women and youth. One of its objec­tives is to improve and increase the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the country’s Olive Oil Value Chain.”

Many Lebanese prod­ucts and ser­vices are less com­pet­i­tive than they could be, an audit of the pro­gram found, pri­mar­ily because 15 years of civil war have dam­aged infra­struc­ture and depressed invest­ment.”

Agri­cul­tural prac­tices in Lebanon’s olive sec­tor had remained fairly tra­di­tional, includ­ing labor-inten­sive man­ual har­vest­ing,” the USAID says in a Suc­cess Sto­ries sec­tion of its web­site, which can incur over half the costs of the already expen­sive pro­duc­tion process. These exces­sive costs neg­a­tively affect the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Lebanese grow­ers domes­ti­cally and in export mar­kets where, com­pared to olive oil from other coun­tries, Lebanese prod­ucts can be 15 to 30 per­cent more expen­sive.”

The goal of the pro­gram is to improve pro­duc­tiv­ity in olive orchards and reduce har­vest and pro­duc­tion costs. Under the pro­gram, pro­duc­ers can rent mech­a­nized har­vest­ing equip­ment from coop­er­a­tives at the cost of $20 a day. The har­vest­ing tool con­sists of a rake run­ning on a 12-volt bat­tery which vibrates, caus­ing olives to fall to the ground. The tool saves time, reduces the cost of har­vest­ing and pre­vents the bro­ken branches often cause by hand-har­vest­ing accord­ing to the project orga­niz­ers.

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Plas­tic crates and tar­pau­lins, which are laid on the ground to catch the falling olives, are also avail­able under the pro­gram.

In 2013, the first year of the pro­gram, LIVCD had pro­vided 29 tools to six coop­er­a­tives in the regions of Koura, Batroun and Akkar. Last year this extended to 18 coop­er­a­tives, where 123 equip­ment kits were dis­trib­uted. In 2014, 853 farm­ers and pro­duc­ers used the tools. Man­agers were trained to work in the offices of the coop­er­a­tives in rural areas, cre­at­ing 73 jobs. The objec­tive for 2015 is to reach 30 coop­er­a­tives.


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