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Growing wheat in South Lebanon for self-sufficiency


In its issue of Saturday, Al Akhbar newspaper wrote, that with the start of the collapse of the exchange rate of the Lebanese lira against the US dollar, several community and official circles encouraged the return to agriculture as the main gateway to food security. Calls have focused on propping wheat cultivation which the country imports nearly 85% of. For South Lebanon residents who responded to back-to-the-roots calls, they were not lured into growing wheat for a number of reasons. Notably, the scarcity of agricultural lands unlike the Bekaa area, in addition to the insignificant benchmarked price of the wheat crop which is sold to the State at less than LBP 500 per kg. Another reason is the quality of the southern-grown wheat which is mainly the hard and durum type suitable for home made mouneh dishes, like Samid, Burgul and Friek as compared to the soft Italian wheat best for flour. On the subject, Mohamad Srour, from Aita al Shaab, who rented a piece of land to grow wheat, explained that the agricultural and consumer related conditions have changed extensively. The one truth remaining, he lamented, is that we should never sell our produce to government-run institutions. This is totally useless, he said, recalling the tobacco farmers’ anguish and suffering as a result of the extortionist attitude on part of banks who refused to release the Regie subsidies deposited in banks at the end of last year. Therefore, Mohamad went on, many people grew wheat to meet their daily needs following the surge in prices of essential goods rather than for profit. Likewise, farmer Mohamad Souli from Marjeyoun, said some people regretted having planted wheat after discovering that small-scaled cultivation is non-profitable. On the other hand, the head of Lebanese Farmers’ Association, Antoine Howayek, explained that farmer veterans had a good harvest season, but they still need two or more seasons to start reaping net profits. The mayor of the southern town of Aitroun, Salim Morad, for his part, noted that the size of wheat cultivation this year is relatively average compared to the size of home gardens which increased by nearly 50%. For more, kindly visit the link below: (Al Akhbar, July 4, 2020)

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