Market Analysis for the Shouf Biosphere Reserve

The Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR) stretches from Dahr Al Baidar to Niha with an area of 50,000 hectares. As part of its roadmap, the SBR was working on a program which promotes sustainable practices including composting, use of organic pesticides, use of homemade pesticides, promoting rain-fed agriculture and free-range animal production, in addition to other alternative cropping systems and best ways of water management in the Shouf mountains. SBR, which offers around 82 high quality products, harvested by farmers and five cooperatives located in the surrounding areas was looking to limit the number of products produced by the cooperatives and small-scale farmers in order to concentrate on those with high potential for growth and job creation. The SBR was therefore interested in conducting a market study that would provide the following: (1) a macro-economic overview of the organic/ high quality market, (2) a deep dive into the agriculture activity in Al Shouf area, including assessment of small-scale Lebanese farmers and Syrian refugees, and (3) a review of fair trade practices in Lebanon. To analyze the current market situation, InfoPro at first conducted a mapping exercise of all stakeholders involved in organic/ high quality agriculture in Lebanon. InfoPro then conducted 15 in-depth interviews with key stakeholders. These interviews aimed at assessing market demand and supply, identifying barriers, and validating regulations and requirements needed in the local and export markets. In addition, InfoPro contacted leaders of surrounding municipalities to collect insights on the high quality and eco-friendly farming markets in their respective villages as well as to gather the contact information of Lebanese farmers and Syrian refugees located in the Shouf region. Finally, a total of 170 interviews with Lebanese small-scale farmers and 170 interviews with Syrian households were conducted to assess their living conditions and whether they have access to credit with a focus on micro-credit institutions in the area. InfoPro was eventually able to provide the SBR with an overview of the organic / high quality market in Lebanon including the most prominent players and those that can be considered as competitors to SBR, market demand and supply, barriers to trade, and market requirements and regulatory framework needed for local and export markets.