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Despite difficulties, tobacco growing is a key source of income for 14000 families in the South


As Safir newspaper published, last week, a brief review on tobacco growing in the South and which presently benefits some 14000 out of the 16500 families which used to make a living from it during the hay days of this sector.  This sector also benefits and additional 10000 families in the North and in the Bekaa.  The report highlights difficulties faced by farmers namely illegal competition by other farmers who are not licensed and which has prompted the Regie des Tabacs et Tombacs, the official body in charge of this sector together with the Ministry of Finance, to set a production ceiling of 5,450,000 kilograms a year for South Lebanon.  Farmers also suffer from the high cost of production associated with this very demanding crop.
The report relays the wishes and suggestions of the president of the Trade Union of Agriculture and Tobacco, Hassan Faqih, who asked that the state distributes new licenses to small farmers in the South, especially to those living in the borderline areas as a mean of support.  He added that these areas are still infested with landmines and should be demined so that they could be replanted.  Faqih also asked the government to raise the average price per delivered kilogram to LBP 15000 so as to be in harmony with the overall high cost of living indicators, and to provide compensation for farmers whose harvests were burnt during the Israeli aggression of July 2006.
He also insisted on the need to include tobacco farmers in the NSSF whilst reminding that this matter was discussed and settled by the administration of the NSSF which in turn referred it back in 2000 to the Cabinet and no progress was made since then.
Source: Al-Safir 13 November 2013

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