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The crisis of the agricultural sector: a continuing saga and an absence of government intervention


Newspaper coverage of the crisis that has hit this year’s agricultural harvest continues, as A-Safir published, last Friday, two reports on this subject.  The first discussed the unprecedented poor harvest of olives in Marje3yoon because of the dearth of rainwater during the previous year. The report also noted that this situation will undoubtedly lead to an increase in the price of olives as a result of increased demand and lower supply.  Olive growers have already started selling the gallon of olive oil at USD 140 compared to USD 80 – 100 last year; in addition the cost of one kilogram of olives went up reaching USD 10.
The second report focused on the overflow in the harvest of apples which has so far filled out all existing refrigeration facilities in addition to home storage, while 30% of the harvest remain on its trees and cannot be harvested because of the decline in available labor force following the new restrictions imposed on Syrian workers and that is according to apple grower, Fawzi al Moghrabi.  Moghrabi also expressed his concerns regarding marketing because of difficulties in exporting.  He added that apple growers relied in the past on overland exports to Jordan and Egypt, a matter that is now very difficult in view of the Syrian crisis.  The president of the Syndicate of Apple Growers in Lebanon, Fouad Nassar, noted that this year’s total production in Lebanon exceeded 10 million apple boxes adding that the government must find new export outlets and suggesting that agreements be concluded with GCC countries to export via the Beirut port.
In a related vein, the president of the Federation of Beqaa Farmers, Ibrahim Tarshishi, hoped that politicians, especially the current Minister of Agriculture, Akram Chehayeb, would help Lebanese farmers in exporting potatoes to Syria which has now allowed the import of this product.  He also hoped that hurdles blocking the export of potatoes to Syria and Iraq will soon be lifted especially since they relate mostly to administrative red tape at the level of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Source: Al-Safir, Al-Safir, Al-Diyyar, 24 October 2014

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