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Jabal Moussa Rural Products Program

Link: The Jabal Moussa Biosphere reserve (Lebanon) was created in 2009 by the Association of Protection of Jabal Moussa. Since then, this association composed by local lovers of Jabal Moussa do everything that is possible to preserve and develop it sustainably. Throughout the last 10 years, their activities revolved around the inclusion of local communities as actors and beneficiaries of the protection stance.

One clear example is the set up, in 2016, of a central common kitchen. To give you a little piece of context, many people of this mountain are poor, and have to cumulate several jobs to survive, and this situation is even more complicated for the women. But this Biosphere Reserve is full of agriculture, full of endemic or iconic plant species and the most important point, full of people very proud of their culture.

So, what about this kitchen ?

It’s part of a Rural Products Program that allowed the association to revitalize the declining local skills in crafts and agro-food production, and to empower local talented women socially and economically.

In practice, once a month, local women regroup in the kitchen to cook and store many local and cultural products like jams (fig, strawberry…), delicious honey (sweet thistle honey and strong forest honey), vinegar, zaatar (made with thyme, sesame, sumac…). These products are proposed to customers into the biosphere reserve but also in many supermarkets through the country.

And, away from the kitchen, other women craft products like dolls representing traditionally dressed women, doorstops, doll keychains, or iconic stuffed animals (rock hyrax, fox…).

The association made an economic deal with these people. A percentage of the incomes gets to the association and all the rest to the local contributors.

Thus, in 2017 alone, the products program generated income of 22,500$ to 15 women. Material for the food products are sourced locally, contributing 31,000$ to local farmers, beekeepers and suppliers.

Of course, the association’s earnings are used to launch new sustainable projects and to develop their activities in order to preserve the biosphere reserve.

That system encourages each member of the deal to carry on this way and I can tell that it’s fortunate for lebanese people, because their honey is delicious.

  • Benjamin Cau



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