Farmers say hardly receives any attention from the government despite endless pledges to improve this sector. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
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Former Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb announced last September a decision that would block companies from importing certain produce without prior approval, in response to demands by local farmers struggling to sell their products.However, some farmers criticized the program, saying that the mechanism of implementation was not proper because the government paid the money directly to one ship owner who monopolized maritime export, which led to an increase in the cost of shipping by sea.For Nasser Lama, technical director of the USAID-funded Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development project, solutions to challenges faced by the sector begin with improving the quality of agricultural produce in Lebanon, adding more varieties to the items produced by farmers.Lama said that farmers tend to rely on pesticides suppliers for information on how to use these products.Lama argued that some farmers also use cheap but internationally banned pesticides without knowing that such products harm their crops.Another problem facing the agriculture sector in Lebanon is the inability to produce new varieties of crops that are in demand outside Lebanon, according to Lama.Lama explained that even if farmers can afford to pay big amounts for royalty rights, they cannot buy these plants because Lebanon has yet not signed the agreement for intellectual property rights.Lama's comments were reiterated by the source, who said that Lebanese farmers must pay for the right to harvest specific plants bought from other countries while guaranteeing not to exceed their production above a certain limit.
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