Reference Date: 07-December-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Relatively favourable weather conditions prevail
Cereal import requirements in 2016/17 set to decrease slightly
Number of registered Syrian refugees in the country stabilized
Relatively favourable production prospects prevail
Planting of the 2017 winter grains (for harvest from approximately mid‑June next year) started in mid-October and is expected to continue until early January. Remote sensing data shows that cumulative precipitation so far in 2016 exceeded or was close to the long‑term average (1989‑2012). Rainfall amounts from September to the end of November were exceptionally low. However, heavy precipitation in early December have brought rainfall levels closer to last year’s in most areas. Before the latest rains, the current deficits were very visible in some of the most agriculturally productive parts of Beqaa Valley although additional abundant precipitation later in the season can reverse the impact.
In 2016, total cereal production was estimated at about 174 000 tonnes, similar to the previous year and the five‑year average. While domestic cereal production is limited by landscape, agricultural production, particularly 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 6 percent of the total labour force but is a primary source of income and employment in rural areas reaching up to 25 percent of the labour force and 80 percent of local GDP in rural districts.
The Syrian crisis disrupted trade routes to the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Iraq, drastically impacting Lebanese exports of agricultural products to these lucrative markets. Exports of fresh produce (mainly fruits and potatoes) are particularly affected. The closure of the last border crossing between the Syrian Arab Republic and Jordan in March 2015 forced Lebanese exporters to rely on the more expensive seas shipment, resulting in a dramatic increase in transport costs and a significant loss of market shares, particularly in the Gulf and Iraqi markets.
Cereal import requirement remains high in 2016/17
Domestic cereal production covers on average about 17 percent of the consumption needs and the country depends heavily on imports. In the 2016/17 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirement, mainly wheat for human consumption and maize for livestock and poultry, is forecast at 1.6 million tonnes, slightly below the previous year but 20 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 October 2016, the yearly general inflation was 1.13 percent, while the food and non‑alcoholic beverages inflation was negative 1.6 percent. 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 September 2016, 1.07 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, in addition to the new rules on work permits in the sectors where Syrian nationals have long been working, such as agriculture and construction. Currently, the signing of the “pledge not to work” has been lifted.
In 2016, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) 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 and 300 000 Palestinian refugees. The Food Security Sector (FSS) was able to reach more than 870 000 individuals with direct food assistance (cash based, vouchers and in-kind), agricultural livelihoods activities (including capacity building and provision of agricultural inputs and materials) and nutrition-related activities mainly through micro-gardening. The sector supported national institutions, mainly the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Social Affairs with capacity building and systems improvement.
In November 2016, the LCRP 2017-2020, the Lebanon chapter for the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan strategy, was finalized. The FSS identified a total of 2 million people in need, of which 70 percent refugees. The sector will target around 1 million individuals, of which 85 percent refugees (Syrians and Palestinians) with direct food assistance and employment activities, and host communities with direct food assistance, agricultural livelihoods and employment support. With the objective of shifting the response from humanitarian to more stabilization efforts, the sector overall budget needs have been set to USD 507.2 million for 2017 (68 percent humanitarian and 32 percent stabilization), an increase from USD 473.5 million in 2016 (74 percent humanitarian and 26 percent stabilization).