The Agriculture Ministry, the European Union and Kafalat signed a grant contract of 3.5 million euros ($4.7 million) Monday for small loans intended for agricultural  and rural development.
The project, dubbed Credit for Agricultural  and Rural Development (CARD Scheme), is part of the Agriculture and Rural Development Program, an EU-funded initiative implemented by the ministry, the EU delegation said in a statement.
The small credit scheme will include two financial products with one targeting short-term loans up to 35,000 euros and another meeting long-term credit needs of the sector, including tree farming.
With the cumulative EU and Kafalat contributions totaling 7 million euros, the fund could guarantee up to 36 million euros of loans due to the multiplier effect offered by the guarantee fund mechanism, the statement said.
The program aims to increase access to credit for small-scale farmers and agricultural  cooperatives, the EU said.
“CARD will complement the existing Kafalat agriculture guarantee scheme and will help filling major gaps in the agricultural credit market in Lebanon by supporting small short-term and large long-term loans,” a news release said.
Rural women and young farmers  will be the main target groups for the project, the statement said, adding income-generating activities and job creation are also a priority.
A campaign later this year will encourage farmers and cooperatives to apply for agricultural loans, it said.
It is expected that more than 800 farmers will benefit from this scheme over the coming 48 months.
More than 1,500 loans will be made in the next 10 years, the statement added.