On June 26 and 27 2018, the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences in AUB in collaboration with the FAO organized a workshop on “Climate Smart, Innovative Food Preservation and processing Technologies Applied by Women in Rural Environments in the Near East and North African Region”. The Food Heritage Foundation (FHF) was represented by engineers Mabelle Chedid and Nadim Rawda who both gave presentation on climate-smart food processing based on FHF experience. which contributes significantly to climate smart food preservation and processing by documenting and reviving the traditional cuisine of local produce as well as promoting the livelihoods of rural producers and processors and enhancing rural-urban linkages.
On the first day, Dr. Shady Hamadeh, director of the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) gave an introductory talk on Mouneh making with a special focus on Kishk and the use of clay jars as climate smart traditions. His presentation entitled “RURAL WOMEN AND THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO CLIMATE SMART FOOD SECURITY: The Mouneh” highlighted the role of mouneh-making in reducing food waste as well as energy waste, when renewable sources of energy, solar energy in particular, are used. It highlights the seasonality of the used ingredients, contributes to preserving biodiversity and allows long-term storage by using natural preservation techniques without refrigeration; examples of Lebanese mouneh products would include sun-dried herbs and fruits, preservation in brine (pickles), olive oil (olives and labneh) and fat (qawarma) as well as other many products. Dr. Hamadeh ended with his call to promote local food systems and traditional mouneh like FHF does while supporting small scale producers mainly female.
On the second day, Eng. Mabelle Chedid participated in the panel on “INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR FOOD PROCESSING AND PRESERVATION USED BY WOMEN IN RURAL AREAS IN LEBANON” and talked about climate-smart products highlighted on darb el karam – food trail such as bulgur, jabali tomato paste and ambarees cheese which rely on local varieties of wheat, tomato and local goat breeds respectively, as well as on natural resources (sun and clay); visitors can learn from local producers about these climate-smart technologies and participate in mouneh-making activities. Eng. Nadim Rawda’s presentation focused on sun-drying and traditional methods of food processing and preservation. He presented FHF different activities and workshops on teaching local communities and Syrian refugees how to process food through sun-drying. FHF implements sustainable strategy options in food processing by minimizing the use of natural resources and relying on renewable energies, the use of traditional technologies in innovative food preservation and diversification of farmers/producer’s incomes.
Several case-studies from the Arab world (Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, and Egypt etc.) were also presented during the workshop, and showed innovation in food production and processing. A question that was raised by most of the participants in the workshop was how and where to introduce new technologies to enhance production, and how to ensure the quality of the final product and meet food safety standards while preserving the traditional aspect of the production process.