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Tobacco farmers in Batroun demand higher prices


Al Mustaqbal newspaper published a report about tobacco farmers of Batroon, who have delivered their harvest for this season amidst a general atmosphere of resentment as the prices do not cover the production costs having remained unchanged since the mid nineties thus leaving Batroon tobacco growers wondering whether keep growing tobacco given its long history in this area or simply shift to other cultures.
The report notes that during the past week, tobacco growers in Batroon were busy packaging their harvest and shipping it to the Regie in Besbeena – Batroun, where experts came in to check the merchandise and to determine prices.  However, these prices were once more disappointing this year as farmers received 11,000 per kilogram at the time when the production cost are much higher.
The report notes that according to a rapid statistics carried out in Batroon, there is a significant decline in the total area planted with tobacco.  Villages which used to depend on this culture for 90% of their livelihoods have totally disappeared because of poor financial yield.  According to the tobacco growers, this type of farming is becoming more of a liability for farmers who complain about the rising costs of seedlings, of labour pesticides, packaging and transportation.  Milad Shaheene, a tobacco grower since 1995, noted that the price received for each kilo of tobacco harvested has not changed for many years whilst the costs of inputs and production have all increased noting that he is not able to cover the production cost of the 500 kilograms of tobacco that he has produced.
The report relayed a strong request from the tobacco farmers to Ministry of Finance as well as the “Regie” requesting that they reconsider the set prices and to assure the survival of tobacco growing rather than condemn it to extinction.  They also asked the Ministry of Agriculture to provide support to tobacco growers in all parts of Lebanon.
Source: Al-Mustaqbal 23 December 2013

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