Reference Date: 31-March-2015
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Planting of 2015 winter cereal crop concluded in January; average crop expected
Cereal import requirements in 2014/15 set to increase
Estimated number of Syrian refugees in need of humanitarian assistance continues to increase
Generally favourable conditions for 2015 cereal crops
Planting of the 2014/15 winter season cereals, for harvest from June, concluded in January and that of sorghum is about to start. Cumulative precipitation by the second decade of March 2015 in all provinces exceeds that of last year as well as the long-term average (1989-2012). Vegetation conditions as captured by the satellite-based Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) suggest a good establishment of winter crops. The far eastern part of the Nabatieh and most southern part of Beqaa provinces, an area mostly used for grazing is currently showing slightly below-average NDVI. Overall, an average cereal harvest is tentatively forecast in 2015.
In 2014, total cereal production is estimated at about 177 000 tonnes, similar to the previous year and the five-year average.
Concerns about sustainability and efficiency of water use in agriculture are prevalent and arise regularly.
Lebanese exporters of horticultural products, fruits in particular, are experiencing difficulties due to the continuing conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic that disrupted land routes with occasional closings. An alternative marine transportation is costlier but also unsuitable for a variety of highly perishable products.
Cereal import requirement remains high in 2014/15
Domestic cereal production covers on average about 17 percent of consumption needs and the country depends heavily on imports. In the 2014/15 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirement, mainly wheat for human consumption and maize for livestock and poultry, is forecast at 995 000 tonnes, slightly above the previous year.
In February 2015, general inflation as well as food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation was almost flat at about 0.1 percent month-on-month (beginning from January 2014, the base year for CPI was changed to December 2013). 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.
Humanitarian needs increase with the growing number of Syrian refugees
Since the beginning of the civil unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic in March 2011, the influx of refugees into Lebanon has steadily increased and, as of late March 2015, almost 1.2 million Syrian refugees are registered in the country.
The WFP continues providing food assistance to vulnerable Syrian populations in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. The operation in Lebanon should reach about 970 000 beneficiaries (including Lebanese returnees) with in-kind food distributions and voucher assistance by December 2015.