The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the USAID Building Alliance for Local Advancement, Development, and Investment (BALADI) Program, celebrated the inauguration of an agro-processing facility in Qaa El Rim Village (Zahle District).
The activity was implemented by Rene Moawad Foundation in collaboration with the Qaa El Rim municipality. USAID provided more than $64,000 worth of crucial agro-processing and packaging equipment; key training addressing food safety, proper accounting practices, and successful management and leadership; and sorely needed rehabilitation and restoration work, while the municipality provided the real estate for the agro-processing center and carried out critical renovations valued at approximately $96,000.
During the visit, USAID Local Development Director MClaude r. Zullo, Qaa El Rim Mayor Mr. Wissam Tannouri, and Deputy Mayor Nicolas Kfoury toured the agro-processing facility and interacted with employees, who voiced the vital importance of the facility in helping more than 33 persons generate income to support their families. The delegation also observed the production process using crops sourced from local farmers.
The facility became operational in August 2020, allowing 11 women from Qaa el Rim to standardize their products and improve marketing. Despite the challenges faced in 2020 (COVID 19, lockdowns and financial crisis), the women were able to increase their sales by supplying products for humanitarian food interventions, by marketing on social media, and by adopting a nationwide door-to-door delivery system through a local postage company. With increased production and demand for products in the coming year, more than 23 additional women will join the facility.
After a brief presentation about the facility given by the Program Director at Rene Moawad Foundation Mrs. Aline Farajian, the Mayor Tannouri thanked USAID and the American People for their support. Mr. Claude Zullo indicated that “projects like this agro-processing facility in Qaa El Rim are an important symbol of the US Government’s long-standing belief in the potential of municipalities to make a visible difference within their communities…We are proud of this partnership because Qaa El Rim was able to capitalize on its existing resources to bring this project to light…We look forward to seeing similar initiatives being replicated in other communities across Lebanon. They not only stimulate local economic growth and improve the quality of life for local citizens, but also transform the futures of your towns and Lebanon as a whole.”
USAID assistance to Qaa El Rim is an example of more than 85 municipal interventions supported through the USAID-funded BALADI Project benefitting more than 115 municipalities and improving the livelihoods of more than 340,000 persons throughout Lebanon.