Lebanon Joins Fairtrade in New Partnership

Samir Abdelmalak, President of FTL and Chiraz Skhiri, FLO's Regional Coordinator for Middle East & North Africa

Walid, one of the young farmers from Coteaux d’Heliopolis

28 February 2012

We are proud to announce a new partnership with Fair Trade Lebanon, which will work towards advancing Lebanese farming communities and spreading Fairtrade to new consumers and producers. It makes Lebanon the 64th producer country on the Fairtrade map.

Lebanon’s soil is rich in nutrients and is highly cultivatable. But poor farming practices have led to soil erosion and water pollution. The Lebanese Civil War and the conflict with Israel have taken their toll and poverty is rife.

A group of Lebanese set up Fair Trade Lebanon (FTL) in 2006 to translate the country’s agricultural potential into real income for small farmers and to tackle the consequences of the conflict. Thanks to Fair Trade Lebanon’s work, many cooperatives have already started selling their products abroad in fair trade outlets. From 2006 to 2010, FTL supported women co-ops in exporting goods worth US $600,000.

Through the new partnership, Lebanese small producer groups are becoming Fairtrade certified, meaning they can sell their products with the FAIRTRADE Mark and access more international markets. The partnership will also provide the farmers with more coordinated support and training.

“Les Coteaux d’Heliopolis” became Fairtrade certified last December. The cooperative of grape-growers has 250 members from 11 villages and provides seasonal employment opportunities to over 400 families in the North Bekaa region. During the civil war many farmers in the region started growing cannabis and drug-trafficking was rife. Even when the government banned these crops farmers had no viable alternative, leading to a mass exodus. By founding the cooperative, farmers have switched to wine grapes and have started returning to the land and earning a living again.

Over the past two years Fairtrade International’s Regional Coordinator of Middle East and North Africa, Chiraz Skhiri, has visited Lebanon several times and worked closely with FTL to help producers understand Fairtrade and get certified.

“I am thrilled about this partnership,” said Chiraz. “We’ve been working towards this moment for years and it is going to open a lot of doors in the region. Fair Trade Lebanon is doing such good work; it is great that we can work together to improve the lives of farmers in Lebanon, and to promote Fairtrade to local consumers.”

FTL and Fairtrade International are working to help other groups get Fairtrade certified including farmers of herbs & spices, apricots, cherries, pomegranates, almonds and olive oil. We are also planning activities to raise consumer awareness of Fairtrade in Lebanon, such as the Fairtrade Breakfast for World Fair Trade Day on 12 May in Beirut.

If you are interested in stocking Fairtrade Lebanese products, or would like to know more about our work in Lebanon, contact Chiraz Skhiri (c.skhiri@fairtrade.net) and Benoit Berger (b.berger@fairtradelebanon.org).

Follow Fair Trade Lebanon’s blog here

Watch a video on Fair Trade Lebanon’s activities


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