News / Middle East

Syria Crisis Hurts Lebanese Farmers

Syria Crisis Hurts Lebanese Farmersi
|| 0:00:00
X
Margaret Besheer
August 01, 2012 5:30 PM
The 17-month long conflict in Syria has harmed neighboring Lebanon's agriculture sector, which employs about 15 percent of the population. VOA's Margaret Besheer reports from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley that with nearly 80 percent of Lebanon's exports passing through Syria, recent closings of the main border crossing to commercial traffic have Lebanon's farmers fearful that, if the conflict continues, their livelihoods will be devastated.
Margaret Besheer
BEKAA VALLEY, Lebanon — The 17-month long conflict in Syria has harmed neighboring Lebanon's agriculture sector, which employs about 15 percent of the population.  And with nearly 80 percent of Lebanon's exports passing through Syria, recent closings of the main border crossing to commercial traffic have Lebanon's farmers fearful that, if the conflict continues, their livelihoods will be devastated.

In the Bekaa Valley, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are grown for domestic consumption and export to Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf countries.

But as the conflict in Syria intensifies, Antoine Howayek, the president of Lebanon's Farmers' Association, said farmers here are having trouble getting their produce to these markets over land.

"Last week they closed the border for five days; 270 trucks were unable to pass from Lebanon to Syria. When the situation was calm they tried to pass, but they were hit by gunfire and they had accidents," said Howayek.

Howayek said that for each day the main border crossing is closed, trucks carrying 1,500 tons of agricultural products are not able to transit to the Gulf countries, costing Lebanese producers between $1 million and $2 million daily.

The Farmers' Association is urging the government to create and fund a maritime route providing at least two ferries a week for farmers to ship their goods from Beirut to Egypt or Jordan - bypassing Syria.

"The situation in Syria might continue long-term and the agriculture sector and the economy cannot be hostage to it. The government should create alternate routes, and there is no reason why they should not act," said Howayek.

At the Ghandour Refrigeration plant in the Bekaa town of Anjar, supervisor Mohammed Qurani said he used to export four giant freezers full of potatoes through Syria each day. Now, he said, he cannot.

"Now we have to export through the sea, if we can, and it will be so difficult, because it is very expensive, and we will lose money. Costs will be more than profits," said Qurani.

Lebanon's minister of agriculture recently said he is considering a maritime route, but that it should be part of expanding the farming sector overall, not just as a response to the current security situation in Syria.

In the meantime, Lebanon's farmers worry, and hope the situation returns to normal soon so their harvests will not be wasted and their livelihoods jeopardized.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid