Ghada Bazi did not expect that the day will come when she can help her town residents grind up to 50 kilos of thyme and sumac daily.
"We’re visited by everyone, and people abroad save their share for when they arrive,” Ghada, president of the Agricultural Cooperative Society for Agriculture Industry in Bent Jbeil, says. The name of the cooperative has become well known and expatriates visit to purchase local products every year.
The cooperative was founded in 2007 with 25 aspiring women working to achieve self-sufficiency and business continuity. One member of the cooperative, Fatima Sharara, attributes the successful work of the coop to the modern thyme and sumac machine provided by the United Nations Development Program in Lebanon in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs within the framework of Lebanon Host Communities Support Project, with support from Norway.
"Our goal was to improve quality and save time and effort,” says Fatima. This is, in fact, what the cooperative was able to achieve aside from increased production: it has produced 100 kg of thyme and 300 kg of sumac in just one year.
The results of this project were not limited to women working within the cooperative. "Farmers in neighbouring villages also benefited from an increased yield from production,” Fatima continues, “given our large demand for thyme and sumac; everyone becomes a winner!” She highlighted and expressed her pride at the economic role she and her colleagues play as working women in the village.
The positive impact on the residents of Bent Jbeil themselves is also significant. This machine is not only visited by about fifteen people a day who want to learn how to use it, but cooperative members also received several training sessions that continue to this day. Ghada proceeds, “anyone who comes to us to learn leaves with knowledge of effective work processes and most sophisticated sterilization methods."
Through this project, the coop supports every woman who shows interest and is willing to participate within the vicinity of Bent Jbeil, as it helps those who wish to volunteer and gain experience benefit from extra support and share their experiences with others.