Jun 06 2012
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Lebanese watermelon farmers face pressure from imports
06 June 2012
SIDON, Lebanon: Watermelons growing in the southern fields are now ripe for the picking and the crop is beginning to appear widely in the markets, but farmers are not confident that the season will be a success.
While farmers have been expanding their watermelon crops in recent years along the coast from Adloun to Ras al-Naqoura and from Tyre’s coast up to the plains of Khiam and Marjayoun, this year’s crop is smaller.
Farmers scaled back their watermelon planting due to the high cost relative to other crops and even though it’s only been one week since the first greenhouse crop of Lebanese watermelons hit the markets, they are worried that the price is already dropping.
According to an agricultural calendar that the government uses to determine when to stop produce imports to protect Lebanese farmers and strengthen the demands for their produce, the import of watermelons should be ending now.
“The season is still in the beginning and I hope that the prices stay at a reasonable level especially since the prices of pesticides and agricultural supplies have risen 30 percent since last year,” Daher added.
Agriculture engineer Hussein Sweidan says “the areas planted with watermelon along the coast have shrunk due to decrease in available fertile land, a result of people preferring to use the land for building projects, and also due to the high cost of renting, which has increased 20 percent since last year.”
But Sweidan defends the ability of Lebanese farmers to produce enough for the country.
“The Lebanese watermelons, which are mainly planted in the south and the Bekaa, meet the demands of the Lebanese market and there is no need to import from any state,” he says.© Copyright The Daily Star 2012.
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