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Apple growers protest official neglect, US support Bsharri producers

30-10-2018

The US Ambassador to Beirut, Elizabeth Richard, inaugurated a new apple sorting and packaging facility in the Northern town of Beit Munzer, in the caza of Besharri. A statement by the embassy said the ‘Cedrine’ facility, first of its kind in the country, was completed with funding from USAID through the Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD) project, and in partnership with the local private sector company, Shabash, specialized in processing and storing fruits. As a marketing center for apple farmers in the area, ‘Cedrine’ will sort and pack the produce of some 200 apple growers this season, and is expected to support around 1000 farmers over the next five years, producing 17,000 tons of apples every year. On the same front, Al Diyar newspaper wrote that despite the meagre government compensation to farmers for the 2017 harvest and which did not exceed the cost of production, the weather and temperature fluctuations wreaked havoc on a substantial part of the apple trees. A number of farmers who spoke to the newspaper criticized the unfair compensation, saying it would be better to leave the fruits to rot on the trees. They also complained that, the current high prices of fertilizers and pesticides, coupled with the fierce competition of US apples, climate change, and the absence of State’s support, farmers opt for alternative crops. Meanwhile, the minister of economy in the caretaker government, Raed Khoury, met yesterday with a delegation of the Dairy Farmers Association and promised to protect the domestic dairy industry, especially milk producers suffering from poor marketing of their products. Khoury also discussed with wheat farmers in North Beqaa and Akkar the repercussions on the 2018 production, stressing the payment of compensation to farmers after the delivery of supplies in the Central and West Bekaa regions is completed. (Al Diyar, Al Mustaqbal, October 26, 28, 30, 2018)

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