FAO GIEWS Country Brief on Lebanon (06-April-2016)

Reference Date: 06-April-2016


  1. Favourable weather conditions prevail; average crop forecasted

  2. Cereal import requirements in 2015/16 set to increase slightly

  3. Entry and residency rules put break on number of Syrian refugees

Relatively favourable production prospects prevail

Planting of the 2016 winter grains for harvest from approximately mid‑June concluded in early January. Planting of sorghum normally starts in mid‑April.

Remote sensing data shows that cumulative precipitation so far in 2016 exceeded or was close to the long‑term average (1989‑2012) in all districts except Hermel and Zahle in Beqaa Province where the difference was 10 and 26 percent, respectively. However, compared to the same period in 2015, some districts across the country experienced deficits up to 25 percent, while others received up to 50 percent more precipitation than in 2015. The deficits are most prominent in some of the most agriculturally productive parts of Beqaa Valley. Up to early March 2016, the NDVI developments in 2016 appeared to be closely mirroring that of 2015 and the historical average. Abnormally warm temperatures prevailed across the region possibly speeding up crop development.

In 2015, total cereal production was estimated at about 177 000 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. 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.

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 the closure of the last border crossing between the Syrian Arab Republic and Jordan in March 2015. An alternative marine transportation is costlier but also unsuitable for a variety of highly perishable products. Some farmers near the border with the Syrian Arab Republic report that security concerns have prevented them from accessing their fields and orchards.

Cereal import requirement remains high in 2015/16

Domestic cereal production covers on average about 17 percent of the consumption needs and the country depends heavily on imports. In the 2015/16 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirement, mainly wheat for human consumption and maize for livestock and poultry, is forecast at 1.1 million tonnes, slightly above the previous year.

In February 2016, the yearly general inflation was negative 2 percent, while the food and non‑alcoholic beverages inflation was less than 1 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.

New entry and residency rules put break on 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 steadily increased. As of January 2016, 1.07 million Syrian refugees were registered with UNHCR in the country. As of early May 2015, UNHCR‑Lebanon suspended registration based on the Government of Lebanon (GoL)’s instructions. In January 2015, the GoL introduced new entry and residency rules for Syrian nationals, in addition to the new rules on work permits in sectors where Syrian nationals have long been working, such as agriculture and construction.

The Lebanon Crisis Response plan estimates 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 Palestine refugees.

The Food Security Sector, a coordination body of food security activities in Lebanon covering the Syrian crisis, led by WFP, FAO, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Social Affairs and an NGO (currently Action Contre La Faim – ACF), has provided food assistance through various modalities, including in‑kind food distribution as well as vouchers (paper vouchers, e‑cards and ATM cards) to around 990 000 recipients (maximum number reached in March 2015), including Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Palestinian refugees from the Syrian Arab Republic.

In addition, the Sector vaccinated more than 700 000 animals (including cattle and small ruminants), benefiting more than 5 000 farmers. More than 1 700 individuals received various technical trainings on agriculture and were provided with materials and inputs.