53 agricultural cooperatives from Akkar, Hasbaya, Marjeyoun and Sour discuss the role of ideal cooperative at a conference in Beirut
Cooperatives represent one of the largest civil society actors in the world. In Lebanon alone, it is estimated that there are around 800 agricultural cooperatives providing services to farmers, as well as a platform to discuss common concerns and advocate for their interests. However, many cooperatives face barriers such as low internal capacities, inefficient management structures and limited coordination with governmental actors, all of which hold back cooperatives from leveling-up their support and services to farmers.
As a response, a conference titled “The Role of an Ideal Cooperative – Beyond Service Delivery” was organized on December 4th, 2018 as part of ACTED’s project “Support to Olive and Bee Keeping Cooperatives in Lebanon as key civil society stakeholders in promoting inclusive and sustainable growth”, funded by the European Union and implemented in partnership with local organizations SHEILD and Akkar Network for Development. ACTED invited 53 agricultural cooperatives from Akkar, Hasbaya, Marjeyoun and Sour to discuss innovative solutions that could bring the role of cooperatives beyond the traditional service delivery. Key experts from the General Directorate of Cooperatives, the National Federation of Cooperatives in Lebanon, the Economic and Social Fund for Development and the French University AgroParisTech briefed the cooperatives about the key laws and regulations governing the cooperative sector in Lebanon, and explained how the adoption of lessons learnt and best practices from other cooperatives, such as proper short and long-term planning and re-evaluation of market place and consumer behavior, could contribute to a sustainable usage of the cooperatives’ financial and human resources.
The experts speaking at the event recommended that by refining the democratic structures within the cooperatives, cooperative members could take a greater role in collaborating for economic and social development projects that pave the way towards improved livelihood opportunities and linkages with local and international markets. By investing in enhanced agricultural technologies and well-functioning management structures, cooperatives could offer improved access to a wide array of agricultural services, such as equipment rental and awareness raising on modern agricultural practices.
The “Support to Olive and Bee Keeping Cooperatives in Lebanon as key civil society stakeholders in promoting inclusive and sustainable growth” project aims at empowering cooperatives to make effective and meaningful strides towards development of the agricultural sector in vulnerable regions of Lebanon, and involves a total of 53 beekeeping and olive cooperatives from Akkar, Hasbaya, Marjeyoun and Sour in technical and organizational trainings, networking and implementation of initiatives to improve cooperative service delivery.