Syria

Rural Syrian women boost their food processing production with FAO’s voucher scheme

For a number of years, rural Syrian households, particularly those headed by women, have had to earn sufficient income to feed their families. In the past three years, FAO has enhanced rural women’s skills, allowing them to become efficient producers. FAO has assisted the women by improving their food production and business management skills, and supported the establishment of food processing units under the management of women leaders in local communities. Moreover, the Organization has also reached out to women who produce and promote their products independently.
FAO, through the Smallholder Support Programme, has assisted more than 740 women with vouchers to purchase vegetables and supplies for their micro-businesses. Beneficiaries were also given the choice of buying their supplies from various affiliated suppliers, giving them a strong position to negotiate prices and choose supplies with the best value to make their products.
The voucher system was implemented in response to continued inflation and disruption to supply chains, which limited women’s ability to access the needed inputs for production. The scheme also gave women the opportunity to bridge the gaps in their production process depending on their needs.
Afaf Jafar, a food processing beneficiary from Rural Hama said the vouchers work in perfect harmony with her production process. “At the processing unit, it is better for us to choose the items we need based on the agreed seasonal food products we want to make,” she explained. “FAO’s voucher system made it easier for us to buy the items we needed from a number of sources recognized and approved by the Organization. We were able to buy vegetables as well as any items necessary to sustain production. For example, our work was always interrupted by repeated electricity shortages, and the vouchers allowed us, as one group, to buy a power generator for the whole production unit,” added Afaf.
Nadia Hasan Haidar, a food processing beneficiary from Rural Damascus elaborated, “We went to a number of shops and selected our supplies based on the best price and quality. We bought eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers to make food products that are found in every Syrian household.”
FAO’s voucher scheme has not only supported women to produce food, but also encouraged them to have a business mindset and a vision for marketing their products and expanding their businesses for a sustainable livelihood. Mona Al-Agha, a beneficiary from Rural Damascus explained, “The vouchers helped a lot. I am going to sell my products to cover my family’s living needs. I am also saving some food for my children. I make my products according to the market’s demand at a reasonable price.”
FAO’s voucher system has reached women in Al-Hasakah, As-Swaida, Aleppo, Dara’a, Deir Ez-Zor, Hama, Homs, and Rural Damascus governorates. It is a part of FAO’s integrated Smallholder Support Programme, which is designed to support the recovery of smallholder families to regain their livelihoods in the agriculture sector.