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Sweida Women are far from being dry of ideas...Famed apples and grapes to the factory

Sweida is considered one the most famed places in Syria for growing vines and apple trees. Those two agricultural products are not only the most savoring grapes and apples you can ever taste, since they rely primarily on natural rainfall rather than irrigation. Therefore, they are very rich in minerals as the region is basaltic, located in a previous volcanic region. In addition, those flavorful fruit products make up for a large part of the national production . However, the sanctions imposed on Syria have prevented the exportation of most agricultural products, and Sweida grapes and apples are no exception. 

Thus civil community in the governorate has tried to find solutions to make use of over production by suggesting recycling of those perishable fruits. Consequently, Women Association in the village “Sahwa Balata” established a factory for drying fruits and vegetables, which entered production two days ago.

This factory is the fourth project of the village’s Women Association, as it was preceded by former projects to produce local products like Arabic bread made of whole grain, traditional pies and pastries; in addition to an environmental garden to grow organic vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, and an agricultural nursery. These have in total, secured nearly 30 job opportunities for women and new university graduates; along with marketing agricultural products of “Sahwa Balata” and the nearby villages.

According to Ms. Sahar Matar, the Board Chairman of the Association: “The factory machinery were imported from China, in cooperation with several parties who believed in the dreams of al- Sahwa’swomen; who provided support for the dream to come true, and to make from our project a pattern to follow in other villages.” In the light of the economic visionof the association the new dried food factory providedagricultural manufacturing and marketing of localproducts by modern means; and put in the local Syrian markets dehydrates food that is in demand those days.

Matar added: “The project aims to support the farmer in our village and the neighboring villages that produce large quantities of apples and other fruits in an attempt to overcome successive marketing crises. We have prepared an economic study that evaluated the estimated costs in order to obtain financial support to begin our project. The initial idea was to establish a mini factory and manufacturing drying rooms with local experiences, but many obstacles impeded the work. So our last option was to obtain an integrated factory, and to import drying machines from China, which is very developed in that field. Then we began the journey of searching for financiers and donors to our project. At the end of the day, the association got both civil and governmental support.”

It is no secret that Syrians have always being creative, especially when being trapped in crises, turning this crisis into an opportunity to produce and invent new original things. Finally, I hope that more attention could be given to those who try so hard to make a difference.

Interview: Lama Alhassanieh