A woman farmer picks olives during an olive harvest day in the southern village of Hilta, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011.(The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
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For Lebanese oil producers, a good harvesting season is not always a stroke of luck.Miled Riyachi, of the governmental Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute, argued that Syrian oil in Lebanon is taking a heavy toll on local farmers.Across the country, however, a number of self-branded "cooperatives" bottle the oil coming from Syria and label it as a local product to increase profits.Around 41 percent of olive oil production in Lebanon takes place in the north, in close proximity to Syria. Around 563 square kilometers of land is occupied by olive trees, which is equivalent to 5.4 percent of the Lebanese territory or 8 percent of total agricultural lands in Lebanon.Prices vary between $100 and $150 per gallon (around 17 liters) depending on the quality.The estimated price fluctuation is about $20 per 15 liters of oil, Hamra explained.Hamra said that government intervention to subsidize the farmers' production was their biggest hope for the year ahead.According to the Agriculture Ministry, there are some 170,000 olive farmers and growers in Lebanon.
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