Back to backing agriculture
Minister of Agriculture says new programs for supporting agricultural exports on the way
The Minister of Agriculture Hussein Hajj Hassan said that the Ministry intends to reinitiate a program for supporting the export of agricultural products. He said that the program will involve the export of fruits and vegetables, as well as of eggs, flowers, honey, and oil.
The state-run Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) had been managing Export Plus, a program which helps farmers, and exporters, sell their products abroad. The export subsidy program has been halted since July 2011.
Hajj Hassan said that the export subsidy program enables the State to support exports. Promoting exports, he said, is a better means (of supporting locally-made products) than closing down the borders or raising customs tariffs on imports.
The President of the Association of Lebanese Farmers, Antoine Howayek, said that agricultural products, mainly olive oil, potatoes, and citrus, are facing challenges in both local and export markets.
Howayek said: “In the local market, our products are being challenged by cheaper imports, and in the markets abroad the products have weak competitiveness (compared to lower production costs in other countries) due to the high customs tariffs on exports.”
According to Howayek, some export markets, namely Saudi Arabia and Jordan, are adopting tighter standards for agricultural imports to protect their local produce.
Howayek said that he still hasn’t viewed the new export support program. He said that there is not much communication between the Minister and the Association. “Anyway we do not expect much (breakthrough) out of this program,” he said.
According to Hajj Hassan, the Ministry is working on several programs to support farmers, including artificial insemination programs, medication programs for bees, as well as other programs for developing the cultivation of grains. He said that two programs are underway. “The first is for developing the cultivation of fodder, and thus developing the production of milk, and the second is for supporting the fishermen sector,” he said.
Date Posted: Nov 09, 2011