A farmer on a tractor sprays pesticide in the Bekaa town of Qab Elias, Saturday, March 2, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb Tuesday called for the immediate halt of smuggling of produce into Lebanon from Syria, saying it was harming local farmers and consumers alike."Syrian authorities are responsible for putting a stop to the smuggling the same way we are responsible for acting here (in Lebanon)," he added.He defended Syrian farmers and traders, saying his measures did not mean to negatively affect them but rather to protect the Lebanese, adding that harming Lebanon's agricultural sector would mean harming the Syrian workers in Lebanon as well as the country's citizens.The minister applauded Lebanese farmers and said their produce was enough to cover the local market demand and export to Gulf countries, where he said there was a demand for Lebanese products.He noted that Lebanese exports have seen a drop since the start of the Syrian war as trade routes have become longer and thus more expensive, resulting in what he said was a loss of business for Lebanon.
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