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FAO in Lebanon

Lebanon at a glance

Agriculture plays a relatively minor role in Lebanon's, contributing about 5 percent of GDP and 8 percent of the effective labor force. In addition to primary agriculture production, the sector is a key contributor to Lebanon's important agri-food industry which contributes an additional 5 percent of GDP and constitutes a major and growing employer in the economy. The rural population in Lebanon accounts for only 12 percent of the total but it is relatively poorer than the rest of the population.

Around 20 to 25 percent of the active population has some activity in agriculture on a full time or part time basis, including seasonal family labor. In the poorest regions of the country such as in Akkar, Dinnyeh, the Northern Bekaa and the South, agriculture-related activities account for up to 80 percent of the local GDP. Farm households are diverse and typically engage in non-agricultural economic activities as well as in agriculture, although poorer rural households tend to rely more heavily on agriculture than better-off households.

Over 20 percent of heads of households engaged in the sector are highly vulnerable. Women farmers constitute some 9 percent of the total farmers. Women, involved mainly in the production of dairy products, food preserves and subsistence farming, are marked by an increased incidence of poverty.

The crisis in Syria continues to impose a very heavy burden on Lebanon. Lebanon is currently hosting 1.048 million Syrians refugees officially registered with UNHCR, in addition to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees from Syria and Lebanese returnees. On a per capita basis, Lebanon currently hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, with the registered Syrian refugees accounting for more than 20% of the total population. The massive influx of refugees has imposed tremendous pressure on the country's physical and social infrastructure and has led to increasing tensions between the refugees and the host communities due to growing competition over jobs and livelihoods. 

The conflict in Syria is also having a significant impact on the agriculture and food sectors in Lebanon. The disruption of trade routes to the GCC and Iraq is having a drastic impact on the country's export of agricultural products to these lucrative markets, particularly exports of fresh produce (mainly fruits and potatoes).

Moreover, Lebanese farmers used to rely heavily on Syrian highly subsidized agricultural inputs which are no longer available since the start of the crisis in Syria. This has resulted in sharp increase in the costs of agricultural production. Also, a large percentage of the massive numbers of Syrian refugees are located in the main agricultural areas of the North and the Bekaa, putting significant pressures on natural resources (farmlands, rangelands, groundwater and forest resources).

Finally, the collapse of the animal health system in Syria has resulted in higher incidence of outbreaks of animal diseases in Lebanon as a result of seasonal trans-boundary movements of livestock (mainly sheep) from Syria.