Local potatoes in Europe. Exports could reach $25 million - Lebanon

Local potatoes in Europe
Exports could reach $25 million
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The European Union (EU) ruled that local potatoes will be able to access its markets. Farmers will begin exporting their produce starting the next harvest in mid-April 2014.

Local farmers produce about 350,000 tons of potato yearly, half of which are exported. Exports to Europe, mainly Greece, Romania, and Italy, could reach 50,000 tons yearly, as per Ministry of Agriculture figures. Their value could reach $25 million.

Ibrahim Tarshishi, Head of the Association of Bekaa Farmers, said local producers were prohibited from exporting their potatoes to Europe for 25 years because their production methods did not match required standards. “After three years of studies and experiments on local potatoes in all fields, the EU’s decision came as positive,” he said.

Lena Dargham, General Director at Libnor, said: “The local potato produce meets European standards in quality and grading.”

The Ministry of Agriculture had already concluded a project to make local potatoes compliant with EU standards. The Italian Cooperation Institute and the Ministry co-funded the initiative, which was implemented by the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (CHIEAM-IAMB). Funds dedicated to this project reached $520,000.

“The Ministry of Agriculture decided to import the best quality of potato seeds and pesticides,” said Tarshishi.

Dargham said: “When we were setting the standards for growing potatoes, we took as reference the standards of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) and the World Health Organization (WHO).”
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Sep 09, 2013