FAO, Agriculture Ministry sign “Support to Women’s Cooperatives and Associations in the Agro-Food Sector in Lebanon” agreement

The Ministry of Agriculture signed an agreement titled Support to Women's Cooperatives and Associations in the Agro-Food Sector in Lebanon, upon the invitation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with the funding of the Government of Canada.

The ambassador of Canada, Emmanuelle Lamoureux delivered the following statement at the signing ceremony:

Excellency Minister Ghazi Zaiter,

Mr. Maurice Saade, FAO Representative in Lebanon,

Officials, ladies and gentlemen

It is a pleasure to be here to witness the signing of the project agreement related to the Canadian-funded "Support to Women's Cooperatives and Associations in the Agro-Food Sector in Lebanon" project.

Canada and Lebanon have had a long and distinguished relationship. We share a dedication to the maintenance of inclusive and diverse societies that are open to people of many faiths and backgrounds.

We also understand the need to support those who come to our borders in need of shelter and safety.

Canada commends the efforts Lebanon has made over the past seven years to support Syrian refugees by providing them access to health, education and other essential services.

Canada has high admiration for the hospitality and endurance of the government and people of Lebanon who continue to help alleviate the suffering of their conflict-affected neighbours with empathy, encouragement and support.

Canada fully recognizes the strains that have been placed on Lebanese institutions and communities these past years.

Canada has strived to help Lebanon alleviate some of those pressures. Canada committed over 200 million dollars to Lebanon, supporting a broad spectrum of humanitarian, security and development assistance in areas such as education, health, food, protection, livelihoods, conflict prevention and countering violent extremism.

Canada's development programme aims to strengthen local economies and improve livelihood opportunities in Lebanon.

Supporting the agricultural sector will help the most vulnerable Lebanese living in rural areas to rebuild their livelihoods affected by the crisis in Syria, while creating opportunities for Syrians who traditionally work in this sector.

Gender equality is a key priority for Canada.

Canada is proud to improve women's leadership in the agriculture sector and empower women in the economy.

We are pleased to support the important work of FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture that we are here today to inaugurate.

The "Support to Women's Cooperatives and Associations in the Agro-Food Sector in Lebanon" project will work with both agricultural workers and the Ministry of Agriculture in an effort to comprehensively reform the work of agricultural cooperatives in Lebanon.

Canada welcomes this opportunity to provide support to one of Lebanon's key economic sectors through this initiative.

Canada believes that when women play a strong and central role in the economic, social and political activities in a society, that society will only grow stronger, richer and more secure.

Women make up over 40 per cent of the agriculture labour force in Lebanon. Increasing their access to technologies, markets, agriculture resources and services is vital for the growth of the sector.

This project will target women as well as co-operatives managed by women and help address the key challenges facing them in this sector to help build more sustainable income-generating cooperatives and enterprises.

Furthermore, and perhaps even more significantly, through this project, the Ministry of Agriculture will strengthen its capacity to ensure gender-related issues are factored into its programming and policies.

Canada is proud to be partnering with the Ministry and FAO to help reinforce the capacity of institutions and organisations in Lebanon to become more gender responsive in their service delivery and help build a more enabling environment for women.

This project is but one component of Canada's ongoing efforts to help Lebanese hosts and Syrian refugees to live together in dignity in a stable environment, until the conditions are in place for safe and voluntary return to Syria.

I wish every success to FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture as they work together in the years ahead on this important initiative.

Source: National News Agency