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Akkar farmers’ protest against imports of Egyptian potatoes

20-3-2019

Potato growers in the Akkar plains staged a sit in on March 18 in front of the Agriculture Department in the town of Abdeh to protest the entry of Egyptian potatoes to the local markets. Participating in the demo, were the head of the Awkaf in Akkar, Sheikh Malek Jdeideh, Future Movement MP, Walid Baarini, the head of the Lebanese Popular Movement, MP Mustafa Ali Hussein, along with the mayors and makhatir of the area. Protestors voiced their anger about dumping the domestic market with imported Egyptian potato which makes it difficult to dispose of the local produce. During the sit-in, Hussein appealed to the government, namely to the agriculture minister, Hassan Lakiss, to intervene to prevent the entry of large quantities of the produce at the peak of the harvest season in Akkar. This, Hussein warned, leaves the locally-grown potatoes to slump and rot, adversely affecting the produce of the Beqaa as well. Sheikh Jdeideh for his part, asked prime minister Hariri and House Speaker Berri to play fair to anguished Akkar farmers. Baarini in turn, said the symbolic sit-in is part of a series of actions to be taken pending the outcomes of negotiations and meetings during the past few days with concerned officials to this effect. Similarly, the head of the Federation of Municipalities of Nahr Ustwan, Omar Hayek, pressed the need for an immediate end to the importation of potatoes from Egypt, as Lebanon cannot accommodate the inflow of 70,000 tons into its territory. In the same vein, Lebanese Forces LF Party MP, Wehbi Qatisha, and Future MP, Tarek Mer’bi, called on the minister of agriculture to step up measures to protect Akkari produce. (Al Mustaqbal, March 19, 2019)

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