Agriculture Lebanon 2021 – summary
Lebanon has the largest proportion of arable land in the Arab world, yet the Lebanese agricultural sector faces many drastic challenges.
Structural weaknesses
  • The budget allocated to agriculture has very rarely exceeded 0.1% of the national budget
  • The absence of effective and sustainable long-term agricultural programmes and projects, managed in full synergy by the public and private sectors (despite some good private initiatives but limited to the short or medium term).
  • The lack of implementation of a national agricultural vision.
  • Lack of insurance to compensate for any natural disaster
  • Lack of rigour in the application of the agricultural import schedule
  • The lack of a definition of a rural society (CREAL*).
The effects of the economic crisis
  • A Lebanese pound that has lost nearly 190% of its value since November 2019.
  • The explosion in the price of diesel and fuel and the difficulty of obtaining it
  • The inability to repair any farm equipment due to its high cost
  • The increase of almost 200% in the cost of agricultural inputs and the impossibility of paying for them
  • The inability to deal with export barriers (legal aspects, border situation etc…)
  • Loss of labour: about 60% of the unskilled agricultural labour force registered with the United Nations for refugees receives between $120 and $200 per month (and is therefore no longer interested in working in the fields for which they are paid in Lebanese pounds).
State of the art

1 In 2020, agriculture will account for only 2.36% of GDP (CREAL*) compared to 4.7% before 2019.

2 In 2021, 2.3 million people need food security and agricultural assistance.

3 Cultivated areas have decreased, for some crops by as much as 21% (FAO Situation Analysis Report* in 2021).

4 Some crops are grown in excess and cannot be marketed profitably

5 As of 2019, less than 8% of the population is supported by the agricultural sector.

Possible solutions

Mobilize to make viable the pillars of the “Lebanese National Agricultural Strategy 2020-2025 (Lebanese MOA*).
Pillars 2.1 and 3.1 of this strategy state respectively:

  • To increase total agricultural production by increasing the area under cultivation, livestock production, aquaculture and improving productivity.
  • Support the upgrading of value chain infrastructure and post-harvest processing systems, wholesale markets and local markets.
    While these two objectives are increasingly vital, and while it is now generally accepted that the only effective concept is that of the plant or animal value chain, it is unrealistic to think that these objectives can be achieved in the present context.

Hope for improvement remains in some positive facts that, despite everything, allow for radical rescue plans:
The General Directorate of Cooperatives has recently set up an action to strengthen and make responsible the production and agricultural cooperatives; it should be possible to have, for each crop, all regions included, a successful, transparent and efficient cooperative (the organization of the wine industry is an example to follow, as well as that of olive oil, apples and more than 3 production cooperatives that succeed in exporting to the diaspora in Brazil).

  • Several start-ups presented modern production concepts: aquaponics, hydroponics, vertical cultivation, plant composting, reuse of pomace etc.
  • The concepts of integrated pest management and permaculture are slowly but surely gaining ground.
  • Several new NGOs have been created with objectives to promote “best agricultural practices” and “promote urban agriculture”.
  • Many schools in rural areas are turning to agriculture as a means of livelihood and to support the sustainability of their schools.
To act and remedy the problems

In the short term:
1/ Special banking measures for the agricultural sector, mainly for
importers of essential inputs.
2/ Urgent study on durum wheat vs. soft wheat, alternative to subsidies
3/ Special measures for fuel oil and gasoline, fuel oil subsidies for cold rooms,
registered agricultural vehicles
4/ Awareness campaigns “help for the 2021 harvests” for young people who are
in rural areas
5/ Trigger a reliable and rapid study on the number of consumers and quantities
consumed per cuture in Lebanon (need detected by CREAL since 2018)
6/ Removing obstacles (which are not really necessary) to the export of honey
to Europe and of certain quantities of olive oil to many markets.In the medium term:
The Ministry of Agriculture should resume the work by “crop committee” (system put in place around 2005-2010, later abandoned) in a more encompassing dynamic: these committees should include homogeneous active teams:

  • of the department
  • chambers of commerce and industry
  • producers’ unions
  • of the cooperatives involved
  • local experts, by culture, with strong field experience
  • of the input importers sector
  • of CREAL*.
  • of NGOs
  • of the QOOT* (Lebanon Agri Food Innovation Cluster) initiative
  • of professional exporters
  • of innovative experts

The urgent mission of these committees would be:
radical elimination of corruption:
As an example: between 1992 and 2018, funds of $196 million, $503 million
and 167 billion Lebanese pounds were allocated to projects on agriculture
but without impacting on the gross national agricultural product (GNAP*).


  • rapid re-evaluation of the national strategy 2020-2025 based on the current context
  • writing a quick and feasible action plan from this re-evaluation with focus

specials on:

  • local seed production
  • High-rent crops
  • redefinition of strategic crops in the absence of subsidies
  • an assessment of a possible reactivation of a
    local repackaging of locally produced plant protection products
    of natural enemies” for use in organic farming
  • an evaluation of local production of plant nutrition materials
  • a crop-by-crop reassessment of new export markets
  • the establishment of a transparent system of compliance with agricultural calendars

In the long term:
Digitize all components of the value chain (including traceability)
Introduce the “High Tec” component to each crop, whenever it will imply a greater (feasible) production efficiency.
Agree on a clear vision of the social definition of the rural population
Establish a social protection system for producers and register this profession as an official categorized profession
Increase effective linkages between higher agricultural education and value chain components
Provide immediate employment for agricultural technicians

CREAL: Lebanese Agricultural Research and Studies Centre – Dr Riad Fouad Saadé
*FAO Food & Agricultural Organization 2021, 2020 and 2019 reports