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2017, yet another bad year for agriculture in Lebanon

3-1-2018

Al Diyar daily recapped the agricultural year of 2017 in Lebanon describing it as a year of ‘bad luck’ for farmers, producers and traders. The ordinary farmer, the newspaper wrote, is suffering the biggest downturns in the history of a repeatedly forsaken sector that has been steadily floundering. The newspaper pointed to foreign agreements and contracts that have been signed to regulate the industry, but which, in fact, have been observed unilaterally, mostly on the part of Lebanon, due to the closure of borders between Syria and neighboring countries as well as political turmoil, the newspaper analyzed. On the subject, Al Diyar met the head of the Beqaa Farmers Association, Ibrahim Tarshishi, who said that the past year has been bad for agriculture in general and for potato, banana, citrus and grape growers in particular. He stressed the need to conduct studies and reviews in keeping with the new policies taken by some Arab states which facilitated the import of various products from Europe, China, Turkey, Pakistan, USA and Iran exempt from customs, while preference was granted in the past to the products of Arab countries. The Lebanese potato production, Tarshishi noted, has affected in the Jordanian market last year, where farmers have been counting on the neighboring Kingdom to dispose and market their produce as pledged by their government. He recalled the ill-fate of the Lebanese trucks stranded for nearly 30 days at the Port of Aqaba and denied entry to the Jordanian markets. Tarshishi also criticized Syria's lack of commitment to the signed bilateral trade agreement. He demanded the Lebanese government to subsidize every ton of imported potato seeds with USD 100 to USD 150 and to delay, until end of February, the entry of Egyptian potato to the Lebanese markets, particularly that over 30,000 tons of the local produce will be still stored in the warehouses. (Al Diyar, Al Mustaqbal, January 2, 3, 2018)

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