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Agriculture exports in 2013 increase by 5.8% and Agri Plus by 14% namely potato, apple and citrus


The agricultural sector in Lebanon was able to overcome the economic crisis that hit most the other sectors in 2013 and recorded a notable increase of 5.8% compared to 2012, when it grew by only 1.9% compared to 2011, and decreased in 2011 by 12.5% compared to 2010. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Customs authorities, growth in this sector was not only recorded in exports of fruits and vegetables but also those channeling through Agri Plus programme which has registered an increase of 14% in 2013 with exports reaching 519 thousand tons compared to 455 thousand tons in 2012, and 400 thousand tons in 2011, and this according to information provided by the Minister of Agriculture Hussein Hajj Hasan and IDAL’s GM Nabil Itani during their joint press conference held at the Ministry of Agriculture last week.
Hajj Hassan also noted that his Ministry will continue its efforts in 2014 to increase the volume of exports to Europe whilst highlighting that exports by land stopped for only a few days because of the Syrian crisis, but was more affected by the doubling of transportation costs. He also revealed that sea freight has increased by 40% in 2013.
Itani presented for his part the main results of the Agri Plus programme noting that exports of potato in 2013 came in first reaching 198 thousand tons and representing 38% of the total exported quantities. Potato was followed by the exports of apple (79,200 tons) and citrus (78,000 tons), each representing 15% of the total agricultural export via Agri Plus programme.  He also noted that most exports were to Zone B (i.e. all Arab countries excluding Jordan and Syria) which attracted 69% of total exports whereas 30% of exports were directed to Zone A (Syria and Jordan).  He added that exports of olive oil almost doubled compared to 2012 and reached 2,505 tons of which 50% were exported to Zone D (i.e. North and South America and Australia) which are considered new markets for Lebanese products.  Finally, Itani indicated that IDAL is engaging with the Ministry of Finance in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture so as to repay farmers their subsidies for the exports recoded during the last 6 months of 2012; subsidies which have totaled 17 billion Lebanese Pounds, adding that the settlement of payments is being done regularly although the resignation of the Cabinet in early 2013 has somewhat affected the payment schedule.
Source: Al-Diyar, Al-Safir, Al-Akhbar, Al-Nahar, 18 January 2014)

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