Lebanon - Agriculture

Lebanon's agricultural sector is underdeveloped and has yet to realize its potential. The sector's development is hindered by the large number of small un-irrigated land holdings and the lack of modern equipment and efficient production techniques. The sector also suffers from a lack of funding and inaccessibility to loans. In 1999, the government allocated only US$11 million, or 0.4 percent of the state budget, to agriculture.

There are 207,060 hectares of arable land in Lebanon, 60,047 hectares of which are irrigated. Most agricultural activity is concentrated in the High Bekáa Valley and the coastal plains, which combined account for more than two-thirds of the cultivated land. Bekáa Valley crops mostly consist of vegetables and some cereals. Fruits, such as bananas, melons, and apples, are cultivated in the coastal plains. The production of certain crops, such as tobacco, is subsidized by the government. During the civil war, Lebanon was a major producer and exporter of heroin and hashish. In 1992—pressured by the United States, Interpol, and the United Nations—the Lebanese government officially banned poppy and cannabis cultivation, a ban effectively enforced by the Syrian and Lebanese armies.

Agricultural production is a moderate contributor to Lebanon's economy, traditionally accounting for 13 percent of the GDP and employing approximately 13 percent of the labor force. Most of Lebanon's agricultural products are consumed locally and a small percentage is exported to the Gulf region, primarily to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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