Ministry to start unions for olive oil cooperatives
Program targets marketing produce
The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) issued a decision to form unions for all cooperatives of olive farmers. The decision aims to organize the marketing of olive oil as part of a wider program to support farmers. There are at least 50 olive oil cooperatives.
Olive growers have repeatedly called on the Cabinet to support the marketing of olive oil. They complain that while production costs are too high, the price of olive oil is going down due to low demand and cheap imports. The MoA vowed to dispatch experts to oversee and coordinate all the phases of oil production. It also said it would grant soft loans to cooperative unions upon their establishment. According to the MoA, the annual local olive oil production is estimated at around 30,000 tons. The government often supports the marketing of this produce by buying part of the production at market prices for army consumption.
The Association of Lebanese Farmers voiced its rejection of the decision. Antoine Howayek, Head of the Association said: “The decision stipulates that farmers who join the union cannot sell or lease their land for a period of five years.” Farmers would be subject to penal actions should they violate the union’s clauses.
According to Howayek, the decision specifies neither the prices at which the oil would be sold, nor the period when it would be sold. “It also does not specify the percentage of profit that the farmer will get,” he said.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
Date Posted: Feb 06, 2013