The potato crisis
In recent years, potato farmers have been arguing they have been unable to sell their produce in the local market since imports have flooded the market with competitive prices as result of the Grater Free Trade Area (GAFTA) agreement.
Today, farmers seem to have faced another challenge in marketing their domestic produce, this time in the regional market when Saudi Arabia had recently refused to receive a potato shipment from Lebanon.
The picture has become somewhat gloomy for the Lebanese farmers since almost 40 thousand tons of potatoes are currently mounting up in the warehouses.
Potatoes are one of Lebanon’s most vital agricultural exports. In 2010, potato exports reached 108.9 thousand tons, worth $13.8 million, with Saudi Arabia accounting for 21 percent of total exports. This year, the exported vegetables are expected to be much fewer. In the first eight months of 2011, potato exports reached 53.9 thousand tons, valued at $12.4 million.
For Saudi Arabia, the potato shipment has been rejected for not complying with the international standards. Farmers, however, disagree. In their opinion, such a measure had been taken by Saudi Arabia in order to protect its local produce.
Impediments, on the other hand, to promoting locally, have also started to come into sight. Despite the low prices of potato, being sold for LBP350 per kilogram, the local demand for the produce is near to the ground, according to farmers.
Lebanese agricultural exports are mainly concentrated in the Arab League countries.The Export Plus program launched by the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), was put in place in 2001 in order to support farmers in marketing their agricultural products in both regional and international markets. Under the Program, potatoes and oranges accounted for the highest share of exports in 2010.
If Lebanon’s agricultural exports appear to have encountered disruptions in the regional market, some agricultural insiders expect further challenges to be faced for years to come.In their opinion, farmers should search for new niche markets to sell their produce, as they can no longer depend on Arab Countries- the main importers- which have already started producing agricultural products.
STRATEGIES & PLANS
A fundraising event, entitled Think Green, will be held by Zero Waste ACT for all its business members on September, 10,2013, at WHITE, Dora.
The Green Mind Association invited all Green Mind Award Participants, finalists, runner ups and winners to the GREEN MIND DAY on Jan-16-2013 in Beirut, to create a platform where interested Venture Capital and Potential Investors met with participants.
A green initiative launched by Ashrafieh 2020 project aims to transform Ashrafieh into a tranquil and unpolluted area.Green spaces allow residents to walk and ride bicycles.