U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard celebrated the successes and achievements of the $46 million agribusiness and rural development project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Held in the presence of 300 officials, partners, beneficiaries, and stakeholders, the event showcased the Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD) project’s achievements in the agro food and rural tourism sectors over the past six years. LIVCD reached 19,000 beneficiaries, leveraged $27.7 million in private investment, and generated more than $140 million in sales, including about $20 million in new exports.
In her remarks, Ambassador Richard reiterated the U.S. Government’s ongoing commitment to enhance economic opportunities for small businesses, women and youth. Ambassador Richard then toured an exhibition where LIVCD partners displayed their products and new technologies introduced by the project. Participating enterprises shared their experiences and communicated the impact that USAID had on their businesses.
Launched in 2012, LIVCD worked to strengthen the agriculture and agro-processing sectors by increasing the productivity and competitiveness of Lebanese products with potential to spur economic growth in rural areas of Lebanon. Supported value chains include olives, honey, grapes, avocados, cherries, apples food processing, and rural tourism. The project has increased the incomes of more than 8,800 rural households, creating new opportunities for local people to remain in or return to their hometowns. Since 2007, the U.S. government has provided nearly $5 billion dollars in assistance to Lebanon.
Following are Ambassador Richard’s remarks:
I am really delighted to be here today. Thank you so much for inviting me and thank you all for coming. We are here to celebrate something tonight. We are here to celebrate our joint achievement under USAID’s Lebanon Industrial Value Chain Development project. This is a big congratulations to everyone for a successful six years of support to the agro food and rural tourism sectors in Lebanon. Together, we helped build better businesses and we increased the incomes of thousands of rural households.
The U.S. Government views Lebanon as a vital partner in this important region and we want our partners to have a strong and healthy economy that benefits the whole population.
We invest in Lebanon because we believe in Lebanon. Our investments cross a broad range of areas, from education, to security, to essential services, to agriculture.
It is particularly important to ensure the success of Lebanon’s rural areas that are vulnerable, and yet vital to its economy. This is why for the past 10 years the United States has engaged with local partners to promote economic opportunities in all of Lebanon’s rich agricultural areas.
We must all work to ensure the participation of all Lebanese in the country’s prosperity.
With our partners under the LIVCD program we have reached 19,000 beneficiaries, we have leveraged 27.7 million dollars in private investment, and we have generated more than 100 million dollars in sales.
More than 4,700 of the businesses we helped improve or establish are owned or managed by women. By directly engaging with local communities, this project has created jobs and sustainable sources of income necessary for individuals to remain in their familial villages.
These accomplishments are part of what makes us proud of the more than 46 million dollars that the U.S. Government provided for this support. And this is only a small percentage of the nearly 5 billion dollars that the United States has provided to Lebanon since 2007.
But beyond numbers, what really inspires us is seeing first-hand the impact of this assistance on farmers, beekeepers and small and medium-sized enterprises. From an olive farmer in Koura to a pickles producer in Zahle to a beekeeper in Metn El Aala, we have partners in all areas of Lebanon.
Each of these entrepreneurs has turned a small window of opportunity into a gateway to a better future. Some of their stories are reflected in the exhibition you see down there, and I encourage everyone to go have a look.
Tonight ladies and gentlemen is the closing ceremony for this project and it is a chance for us to look back, and to celebrate our successes, and thank all those who made the great accomplishments that we see here today happen, from the implementing partners to the farmers themselves and to the municipal authorities across the country.
But that does not mean we are finished. Our next strategic partnership will be based on the successes and the lessons learned from this effort, and will shift toward value-added food processing quality enhancement, branding and exports.
So, in closing, I want to thank you all really for being here tonight. Clearly, you all believe in the importance of local economic development, the importance of creating jobs, and the rewarding work of improving people’s lives. Your commitment was the principal engine driving this project’s success. We will continue to support Lebanon and we urge all of you to continue your commitment to help move the wheels of the Lebanese economy and lay a strong foundation for a more stable and prosperous Lebanon.
Thank you very very much and congratulations to everyone who worked on this project. Thank you all.