Cabinet subsidizes apples. Farmers say oversupply higher than past years - Lebanon

Cabinet subsidizes apples
Farmers say oversupply higher than past years
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The Cabinet agreed to offer subsidies to apple farmers through buying part of their produce above market prices. Antoine Howayek, Head of the Association of Lebanese Farmers, said: “The Cabinet will probably buy the produce stacked in refrigerators (the harvest of September) for the army.” The details of the subsidy were not disclosed.

Some 30,000 tons of apples are currently available in the market. Based on the exports trend in the last three years, Howayek said around 11,000 tons of apples are expected to be exported within the coming three months. “The excess supply of apples will be around 15,000 tons this year, which is higher than the unsold amount in previous years, and this can be explained by consumers' lower purchasing power,” he said.

The annual produce of apples is around 200,000 tons. Some 88,000 tons were exported in 2012. The main export markets were Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Howayek said: “Around 60 percent of apple exports were transported to Egypt by sea.”

According to Howayek, the problem is in the apple prices, not in marketing the produce. The price of one kilo of apples does not exceed LL600. “Each box of apples (20 kilos) currently sells at $15, of which $6 are paid for refrigerating cost,” he said. Apple farmers are also facing problems with traders. Howayek said: “Some of the big traders who are purchasing the harvest from farmers declared bankruptcy and others are delaying payments.”
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Mar 22, 2013