The Lebanese Minister of Agriculture Hussein al-Hajj Hassan
The Lebanese Minister of Agriculture Hussein al-Hajj Hassan praised the current government’s support for the agricultural sector in contrast to the negligence and intentional striking of the agricultural sector in
Minister Hassan said: “No one in Baalbek takes farming illegal substances as we all consider growing drugs to be prohibited by religion, banned by the law, and unaccepted in our region and society. The decision to support sugar beets by 25 bn Liras came within substitute plantations.”
This was part of the minister’s address in an honouring ceremony at the house of Abu Isber in Sahl Adous in Baalbek. This was a token of appreciation from people working in the animal production sector for the Ministry of Agriculture’s support for cattle to develop fodder cultivation and milk production which costs 28 bn Liras a year and which reaches 35mn in the fifth year.
The attendance of the ceremony included Kamel al-Refai, Nawar al-Saheli, Ali al-Meqdad, Emile Rahma, the Mufti of Bekaa sheikh Khalil Shqair, municipal heads, syndicate, social and economic activists, in addition to farmers and cattle breeders.
Abu Ibser praised the efforts of the Minister of Agriculture in supporting animal production and the agricultural sector through practical steps that save this sector and sustains more than 200,000 Lebanese families in addition to the social, economic, and demographic reflections of stabilising people in their lands and regions instead of migration and displacement.
Minister al-Hajj gave a speech where he said: “The reason why I am here among you on this pulpit are the martyrs of resistance who sacrificed their souls in defence of this country. If I accepted your honorary invitation, it’s to refer this honouring to the Secretary General of Hizbullah Hassan Nasrallah, to the martyrs of resistance, to the dear farmers, to my colleagues in the Baalbek-al-Harmel parliament bloc, and to all the attendees.”
He added: “We meet to speak frankly and openly. We have passed through years of deprivation in the region and of government negligence. So I also refer this honouring to Prime Minister Najib Mikati who responded to the fodder programme, and to Minister of Finance Mohamed al-Safadi who positively responded to a question by a colleague about how ready he was to meet our demands of 150 mn Liras along five years without hesitation.”
The Minister of Agriculture also said: “The projects being carried out now are the same that we came up with in 2000. Sadly, no one responded to them. On the contrary, instead of supporting the agricultural sector, they struck it by cancelling beets support in 2006, and wheat support in 2007.” He also clarified that four factors raises the cost for the Lebanese farmer such as the cost of land insurance, the cost of securing energy, the cost of labour and the cost of fertilising inputs. In comparison, the cost of production in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia is less.
Al-Hajj Hassan discussed the projects implemented to support the agriculture and animal production sector. Among these projects is the development of grain cultivation according to which the government buys wheat crop at a promotional price of 590 Liras per kilogram which is barley at 550 Liras. They also give farmers original, treated and sterilised seeds at half the cost. He stated that this year Lebanon has more than six tonnes of seeds. The grain development project will cost between 20 to 40mn Liras.
The second project is the development of fodder cultivation and milk production which started this year at an annual cost of 28 bn Liras for five years. The goal of the project is to support cattle breeders by one quarter of the amount of fodder for cattle feeding.
The minister continued: “The third project is export development at a 50mn Lira cost while the fourth project covers trucks for transporting milk, milking machines, containers, and milk refrigerators, and vaccines as the value of provisions for farmers reaches 40bn Liras.”
“The fifth project involves digging 400 ponds in all of Lebanon along five years at a yearly cost of 24bn Liras and provisions for agricultural associations at 3 bn Liras,” he said.
Al-Hajj announced the launch of the Solidarity Fund for Agricultural Security against Crises within which the government would bear half the cost of insurance. Another project supports livestock of sheep and goats where 5 bn Liras will be allocated for Akkar, 5bn Liras for Baalbak-al-Harmel with the aim of building small lakes in addition to the irrigation network along five years.
Head of the Agricultural Cooperative Association Nova Jaafar, spoke at the ceremony, as well as head of the Bee Association in Baalbak Ali al-Qeis and a group of farmers, all of whom praised the steps taken by the Ministry of Agriculture and demanded more care and attention for the sector of bio-production.