Potential income generating activities
To the benefits for women, IGAs to be supported should be those traditionally undertaken by women, and located in or near the home. Potential IGAs should concern activities where women can use skills they already possess. Rural women have skills to do small-scale plant and agricultural and animal production, processing and preservation. Areas for potential promotion include home gardens (aromatic and medicinal plants and herbs vegetables), indoor plants, flowers, fruit tree nurseries, animal production dairy products, sewing, knitting embroidering, carpet making. Of course potentialities are various according, to the specific conditions of the village. Marketing must be careful!! considered before undertaking any of these rural enterprises since lack of marketing expertise is the major weakness of this kind of programme.
1) Food drying. processing and preservation
In many rural households women are seasonally involved with these activities, especially in Jordan. They preserve surplus production for household consumption and for marketing when the family needs more cash. However, the regular production of a standardized product for the market is still rare and a wide of local products which could be produced are absent. Most notable of these are:
– dried fruit, vegetables and herbs
In Jordan the solar drying of fruit and vegetables is restricted to a few minor crops such as chilies, usually for household consumption. However vegetables such as tomatoes. eggplants can be dried, as well as many fruit, such as figs, grapes, apricots and peaches. The market for these is as yet poorly developed but the world market is expanding every year. There is also a large market for edible and medicinal herbs which remains poorly supplied from local sources.
– processed fruit and vegetable
Production of jams, pickles, vegetable pastes, fruit juices could all increase farm income and women’s income in particular since this would generally make use of existing skills and technology.
Packaging is probably important in attracting consumers for local products when they must compete against imports. Producers need advice about moving dried and processed products from rural areas to larger outlets in towns. These activities could be implemented in some appropriate areas of the Project, especially those where fruit-tree plantations are widespread (Jordan, Quneitra, Homs). Olive pickling could be developed in Marassat Al-Khatib and Al-Zeitounah areas. The Federation of Jordanian Women carries out a project concerning herbs drying and packaging run at community level in lrbid district, with good results. It seems to be interesting that the FAO Project gets in touch with the Federation which envisages to set up a similar project in Ajloun district.
2) Preparation and marketing of dairy products
Small-scale milk processing enterprises could be established in villages where there is a surplus of milk. Some NGOs, as Queen Alia Fund, have already developed small credit projects in support of this area in Jordan. Milk processing is one area of traditional female responsibility and production of local cheese is done by women. The knowledge of production techniques is already widespread in several families, especially in Jordan. In Jordan sheep milk products are generally preferred but locally goat products ma! be more popular. One of the main items that store well and is widely sold is jeemid (kind of dried yoghurt).
As with agricultural food processing, the main needs are to mobilize women to produce hygienic products of consistent quality and to match their output to local markets. A range of various products can be made: butter, ghee, cream, cheese, yoghurt, etc.
They may be some possibility of reprocessing locally made cheese and packaging and marketing it through urban food stores where traditional local cheeses are not now sold.
This activity could be developed in livestock raising: areas for instance in the villages close to Ira Yarga range land.
3) Agricultural production
Some agricultural production activities can be carried out in order to provide income such as: vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants. flowers. indoor plants and fruit tree nurseries. The market for aromatic and medicinal plants seems to be important, especially in Jordan. Vegetables and medicinal plants should be linked with processing and packaging activities. Different groups of women could implement these activities according to their own interests and skills, one specialized in production, the other in processing and packaging.
Flowers and indoor plants production could interest villages located close to towns where there is a market for this kind of production. Fruit-tree nurseries could be established by women in Jordan (in Syria this activity cannot be profitable as far as the prices of seedlings are highly subsidized), but the constraint is the necessity to obtain a licence. There is a market for high quality fruit-tree seedlings and a few women have competencies in this area.
Biological produce (fruit and market garden produce) could be an interesting’ alternative in Jordan where a market seems to exist in Amman.
4) Establishment and improvement of livestock and poultry raising,
The first priority of many women (most of them belonging to the target group “low educational older women” is to establish or improve their animal production by buying cows or small ruminants or improved poultry (particularly laying hen). In Jordan several NGOs support this activity in providing credit facilities and technical assistance, especially for sheep and Shami goats. In both countries it is encouraged by IFAD projects which provide credit lines for livestock and poultry upgradings.
Of course this activity should be the object of caution especially for goat raising and considered according to the fodder disponibilities and grazing land availability. However we emphasize that it is one of the most fitted to a category of women. Many, of them want to buy, only one cow or a few small ruminants, especially in remote villages chosen in 1996. The implementation of livestock raising should be linked with improved forage production for efficient production of milk and meat. Furthermore it can allow at the same time fodder shrubs plantation in rangelands, what consequently should imply more involvement of women, in natural resources management. One of the principal constraints is the animal health problem which can happen. Improved animals like Shami goats are generally more fragile and need more care. In that case poultry, which needs less investment, is less risky.
5) Other activities relevant to agricultural and animal production
We gather in this heading potential activities which were not mentioned by women either the,! do not know them or the participants did not seem interested (what does not mean that no woman were interested).
– Mushroom cultivation: it is already implemented at an experimental stage in a few households. Training focused more on men although a few women participate in the activity and seem to take more care and be more motivated. Extension material has been developed for this activity and the Project could emphasize training and extension for women. Moreover mushroom farmers could work in small self-help groups.
– Silkworm breeding: this activity, even if it has decreased these last years. car. provide income for Syrian women, at it is the case in Dreikish area. About 5000 farmers are silkworm breeders (Tartous and Lattakia governorates) and women are generally responsible for this activity. At the present time the activity seems to take a new- interest according to the potential future market of sill; made carpet, and the General Women Union plans to establish a female silkworm breeders cooperative in Lattakia governorate. The interest of this activity is that it can provide small but stable income for poor households and be carried out at group level. Silkworm breeding is present in Tartous, Lattakia and Homs Mohafazat. There are three industrial units in the country: two private (Dreikish and Eyoun Al Wadi/ Homs) and one public (Dreikish) which is the most important and produces about 70 tons silk per year. The public unit is supplied with silkworms produced in Safita, Mesyaf, Dreikhish, Qadmos, Cheikbaden and Jadeh areas. On average, breeders buy one box of eggs 30 USD and produce 30 to 40 kg sold 5 USD per kg. About 500 kg of mulberry tree leaves provided by 20 trees. This activity can be carried out from April until the end of May. Research is in progress to propose new mulberry tree varieties, more productive and which could reduce the number of trees.
The women of Qadmos area (new area selected by the Project) could be interested by this activity. Mulberry tree promotion in appropriate areas should not be underestimated and it could be relevant to go into thoroughly the possibility of silkworm breeding activity.
– Beekeeping: women in general do not show any spontaneous interest for beekeeping. Nevertheless it can be proposed to women. since GUW runs training in this subject in Aleppo governorate.
– Forestry produce exploitation. Some fruits and cherries can be collected and sold to herbalist’s shops as those of Pistachia palaestina. Ceratonia siliqua, Rhus coriaria (See “Rapport sur les produits forestiers non ligneux dans les forêts syriennes” by Wassim Al-Hakim, consultancy report for FAO Project, 1994). Laurus nobilis oil is used in soap making and this activity should be developed in some project areas in Syria.
Support to develop handicrafts at village level is the priority request of young women in all visited areas in Syria and concern carpet manufacturing, knitting and sewing. These activities are traditional and integrated in the cultural context. Knitting and sewing development is firstly wanted to satisfy the household consumption. Consequently, these activities are within competencies of social services (welfare societies, women’s union, etc.). However the FAO Project could support the setting up of micro and small-scale enterprises. There is a gap between domestic handicrafts and those aiming at marketing, which needs business skills and of course entrepreneurship development will not be appropriate for all women. This aspect should be emphasized by the Project in order to avoid the frustration of women who imagine that handicrafts are IGAs which are the easiest to cam out.
In Syria development of small carpet units at village level could be a viable strategy and would allow women to share their time between economically productive activities and domestic responsibilities. Specific looms, smaller than those used in development centres. could be provided (cost of one machine: 23,500 SP). Studies should be carried out to know the potentialities of marketing: contracts with public or private sector, direct sales to consumers? etc. It is recommended to develop this activity at self-help groups level, the final objective being to establish a sustainable women’s group which would be able to manage and run itself its own small enterprise. The same strategy might be carried out for sewing and knitting.
7) Shopkeeper activities
One of the main problems expressed by women in Hadia (Syria) was the lack of basis medical services. The possibilities to train one or few women in this field could be explored in order to establish a small people’s dispensary at village level or at least a village pharmacy with basic medicines. Investigation should be made to know the feasibility, of this activity and the possible legislation constraints in that area.
Although this was not discussed during the meeting in Ayn Jourin, the implementation creation of a bakery could be envisaged according to the supplying difficulties, linked to the setting up of improved ovens.