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Agriculture and rural livelihoods in Lebanon confronting difficulties in exporting, high production cost and government neglect


The third Conference on Olives and Olive Oil in Hassbaya and Marjeyoon was held last Saturday and was entitled “quality as an entry point for marketing”.  The conference concluded with a number of recommendations namely: that the armed forces purchase agricultural products notably olive oil from cooperatives, protecting Lebanese olive oil from foreign competition, combating corrupt practices, collaboration with the Ministry of Information and the media to launch awareness raising campaigns to introduce citizens to thr importance and health value of Lebanese olive oil, finally demands for the creation of a pension plan and health coverage system for olive farmers. In a related vein, As Safir newspaper published in its issue of today a note saying that this year’s olives harvest in Batrun is uneven mostly in view of the exceptional climatic changes.  Farmers are expecting a decrease in their yields.
For its part, As-Safir newspaper published last Thursday a report on the various problems facing late harvests which include financial losses due to marketing at low prices as well as blockages in trading roads to the Gulf because of the Syrian crisis. Another major difficulty includes the high costs of land transport which has increased three-fold.  Agricultural expert, Khaled Zoghbi, noted that potatoes are amongst the foremost products mostly affected by late harvest, also known as “late” cultivations, followed by legumes and greens.  Zoghbi spoke about the role of IDAL in supporting agricultural exports, adding that IDAL financial contributions varies between LBP 100 and 150 thousands for each ton.   He complained that IDAL did not pay farmers their entitlements for 2013 which have now reached some LBP 2 billion.  Zoghbi further added that half of the inhabitants in Rashaya and the West Bekaa rely on agriculture for their livelihoods and that financial losses are of far reaching impact on employers, workers, and holder of various local businesses.
Source: As-Safir 6 and 10 November and Al Mustaqbal 10 November 2014

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