Ibrahim Tarshishi, head of the Bekaa Farmers' Association said in a statement that, faced by the escalating cost of fuel and other inputs, farmers in Lebanon are expected to reduce their cultivation by "a minumum of 70 percent" in the coming season, the NNA reports, in the latest warning of the dire state of the country's agricultural sector.
Here's what we know:
• Tarshishi noted that the price of diesel has increased fivefold since last year, which has also driven an increase in the price of other inputs. The price of seeds, fertilizer and treatments for the crops have doubled or more in price, he said. Meanwhile, Lebanon's currency crisis has severely restricted farmers' access to credit, requiring them to pay upfront and in dollars for needed supplies, which many are unable to do.
• He noted that the crisis has been further exacerbated by the Saudi ban on Lebanese produce, in place since April, which has also effectively cut off the route to other Gulf countries, and by various obstacles to shipping to other Arab countries, and expressed hope for a return to "warm and brotherly relations" between Lebanon and KSA that might lead to a reversal of the ban.
• As a result of the rising costs for farmers in decreased production, Tarshishi said consumers should expect to pay higher prices for produce.
• Tarshishi is not the first to sound the alarm about the dire situation of Lebanese agriculture. A recent report by the Lebanese Center for Research and Agricultural Studies (CREAL) noted a "sharp and dangerous decline" in agricultural production from 2019 to 2020. The center found that the value of agricultural production for fruit and vegetable crops was $736.9 million in 2020 compared to $1.1 billion in 2019, a 33% decline.