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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 23-January-2018


  1. Current conditions unfavourable for 2018 winter grains

  2. Slightly below-average cereal harvest gathered in 2017

  3. Cereal import requirements in 2017/18 set to remain stable

  4. Number of registered Syrian refugees in country stabilized

Current conditions unfavourable for 2018 winter grains development

Planting of the 2018 winter barley and wheat, which started in mid-October 2017, is about to be completed. Early autumn dryness was not eased by relatively low precipitation in December. At the moment, conditions for crop establishment and development remain unfavourable and the lack of precipitation in the near future is likely to constrain yields.

In 2017, total cereal production was estimated at about 164 000 tonnes, 6 percent below the harvest of the previous year and the five‑year average. While domestic cereal production is limited by landscape, production of fruits and vegetables is important in terms of GDP contribution and employment. Out of a total agricultural area of 332 000 hectares, 230 000 are cultivated. Some 113 000 hectares are irrigated. The agricultural sector employs only 6 percent of the total labour force, but it is a primary source of income and employment especially in rural areas where it reaches up to 25 percent of the labour force and 80 percent of the local GDP.

Cereal import requirement remains stable in 2017/18

Domestic cereal production covers, on average, about 17 percent of the consumption needs and the country depends heavily on imports. In the 2017/18 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirements, mainly wheat for human consumption and maize for livestock and poultry, are forecast at 1.8 million tonnes, marginally above the previous year, but 25 percent above the average of the last five years. Increased import requirements are in part supported by higher food consumption caused by population increases.

In November 2017, the yearly general inflation was 4.8 percent, while the food and non‑alcoholic beverages inflation was 4.2 percent, down from over 5 percent in spring 2017, but up from the negative levels recorded in 2015 and 2016 supported by higher commodity prices. The Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry of Economy and Trade sets the price of local Lebanese flat bread. Other bakery products (baguettes, sandwich bread, etc.) are not subsidized.

Lebanese response plan to Syrian refugee crisis

As of November 2017, almost 1 million Syrian refugees were registered with UNHCR in the country, the same figure as in January 2016. Since the beginning of the civil unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic in March 2011, the influx of refugees into Lebanon steadily increased until January 2015 when the Government introduced the new entry and residency rules for Syrian nationals. These rules were in addition to the rules on work permits in the sectors where the Syrian nationals have long been working, such as agriculture and construction.

The Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) 2017-2020 estimated that there are 3.3 million people in need of assistance in the country, including 1.5 million vulnerable Lebanese, 1.5 million displaced Syrians (many not registered) and 300 000 Palestinian refugees.

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