Lebanon Businessnews News

State-backed fund for farmers underway
Howayek said cooperative
plan unreliable and biased
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A mutual fund offering disaster coverage for farmers will be established soon, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) said. The ministry called on farmers to join the fund’s founding committee.

The State-subsidized fund will offer farmers compensation for damage to crops from ‘natural phenomena’, which includes diseases, storms, and drought. The fund also targets farmers who raise cattle, bee keepers, and fishermen. It will be managed by the general directorate of cooperatives at the MoA.

The Lebanese Farmers Association (LFA) rebuffed the plan. “We have repeatedly rejected the idea of a mutual fund managed by the ministry,” said Antoine Howayek, president of the LFA. He said the cooperative concept has proven to be an unreliable tool for supporting agriculture: “(Subsidies) will only go to a number of favored beneficiaries.”

Howayek said the initial plan was to establish a public institution, or ‘national fund’, for agricultural indemnity to protect against disasters, which would include all stakeholders, including chambers of commerce and farmers. “The draft law was thwarted to be replaced by this cooperative,” he said.

Joining the fund is optional. Each subscribed farmers shall pay a contribution of LL50,000 and an annual fee equivalent to four percent of their estimated annual profit. The government will cover half of this fee.
Reported by Hanadi Chami
Date Posted: Sep 24, 2012
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