Bangladesh, Egypt and Lebanon face considerable food safety and quality challenges. To increase productivity and profitability in the agriculture sectors, Land O’Lakes Venture 37 is implementing F2F FSQ to address the important issues of food safety and quality with highly qualified volunteers. Volunteers assist and train others on good agricultural, veterinary and manufacturing practices in order to improve the local food safety protocols and quality assurance systems from “field-to-fork.” The program will aim to work with agro-processors, associations, producers, exporters and other partners and assist them in achieving greater market access. Volunteers and the country staff work in each country to increase the awareness of the Farmer-to-Farmer program to build deeper connections to the communities we are supporting. We also support, coach and mentor our returned volunteers on how they can best share their experiences with personal and professional networks.
The USAID funded Farmer-to-Farmer Food Safety and Quality (F2F FSQ) program provides technical assistance to host organizations working in agriculture production and/or agro-processing focusing on food safety and quality through US volunteer experts, who travel to Lebanon to implement planned assignments. Although the main goal remains food safety and quality, the program has very limited capabilities to implement flexible assignments that represent a significant need and result in a noticeable impact. COVID-19 pandemic and the current Lebanese economic crisis led the program to start implementing flexible and non-GMaP remote assignments that will benefit existing and new host organizations and complement the assistance in food safety and quality.
The host organization is an organic farmer producing high quality fruits and vegetables free from pesticides and chemicals. Currently, the Lebanese local market for organic production is considered significantly small compared to conventional production. Thus, the host is looking to increase their portfolio of products to offer to their customers to increase their productivity and at the same time support women processors in their village.
Dried fruits were identified as one major opportunity to focus on, as they can be linked to the existing marketed fresh fruits and vegetables, thus providing additional sources of income for several target groups farmers on one hand, and women processors on the other. More importantly, these new “high-value, low-volume” products will target a promising market, so far unexploited by the host.
In this context, and with the lack of national expertise, a volunteer expert in Food Processing / Agriculture / Food Technology is requested to support the host organization in the production of dried fruits and implement an intervention plan to encourage the production of dried fruits in the surrounding villages.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenging economic situation, the country is currently passing through, companies are doing their best to increase their sales especially with the reduction of product imports.
Dried fruits represent a promising market which will enable the host to increase their profitability and assist the village women processors and producers.
The requested expert will provide guidance to the host organization and, if possible, to local women processors, to support in the production of dried fruits and vegetables through:
1. Providing technical advice on:
- Selecting the local fruit species that are most suitable for dehydration (for instance: cherries, pears, figs, walnuts, almonds, apples, etc.)
- Provide the host with technical information on the developed products, mainly: recipes, production steps, packaging, storage, etc.
- Information, if possible, on the needed equipment, material, instruments, tools, and uniforms required for the production and packaging of the dried fruits
2. Developing and implementing a training program to the host - as well as to the women processors on the following topics:
- Selecting the right fruits (ripeness)
- Preparing fruits prior to drying seed and shelf removal, rinsing, cutting, etc.
- Pre-treatment: blanching -steam/water/syrup-. dipping, and other treatments
- Drying process: proper use of dehydrator, time and drying...
- Post-treatment: conditioning, steaming; storing and packaging
3. Follow up on training program with trials and hands-on capacity building.
The host will work with the expert and provide all needed information regarding the Lebanese consumer preferences, the local market and the existing competitors.
Objectives and Outcomes of the Assignment
To provide guidance on the production process of dried fruits
To identify any need in equipment or other that should be addressed by the host to produce the dried fruits
To run trials on certain products and provide critical advice for improvement
Dried fruits production practices developed
High quality dried fruits produced
Profitability of the host increased
The recruited volunteer is expected to have the following skills and qualifications:
Educational degree: University degree in Food Science or Food Engineering
Background knowledge in fruits varieties required for drying
More than 5 years of practical knowledge and experience food processing, research and development of food products including fruit and vegetable dryings
Training Skills, including training in group settings, currently the volunteer is expected to deliver remote trainings until it safe to travel from COVID-19.
Good writing and computer skills
Available for this assignment ASAP
About Land O'Lakes Venture37
Since 1981, we’ve been delivering market insights and technical expertise to agricultural development projects around the world. Through our affiliation with Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of the U.S.’s largest farmer-owned agribusinesses, we’re Feeding Human Progress by improving agricultural systems.