| 5 December 2023, Tuesday |

Prices of fruits, vegetables to decrease but huge losses are expected, Tarchichi warns

The lack of control over Lebanon’s borders and the authorities’ inability to control their exports and drug smuggling operations, the last of which was through the pomegranate shipment, have prompted Saudi Arabia to issue a tough decision banning the entry of Lebanese vegetables and fruits or their transit through the kingdom.

The decision had a “thunderbolt” effect on Lebanese farmers with the Chairman of the Association of Bekaa Farmers, Ibrahim Tarchichi, saying dozens of trucks are stranded now on the border, with loads worth two million dollars.

“Around 45 trucks are stranded on the border,” Tarchichi told Sawt Beirut International (SBI) reporter, Ghida Jbeili, saying some trucks willing to head to Saudi Arabia are still waiting at the Port of Beirut while others have reached Jeddah’s port, the Lebanese-Syrian borders or the Jordanian-Syrian borders.

He said all of them are waiting and their drivers have no idea whether they will go on their way or return to Lebanon.

Asked about the losses incurred as a result of the Saudi decision, Tarchichi said “we will stop exporting 50,000 tons to Saudi Arabia and a similar load to neighboring countries via transit, which accounts for 100,000 tons out of 400,000 to be exported.” Therefore, there will be recession in Lebanese markets, he added.

However, Tarchichi said they will not be looking for markets other than Saudi Arabia’s and Gulf countries, and noted that “the prices (of fruits and vegetables) will drop (in Lebanon) and the (Lebanese) consumer might be happy for a short period of time but later on, he will weep a lot.”

“The Lebanese consumer will no longer find any farmers who will grow crops for him,” he added, noting that farmers will not find anyone to support them after their money dries up and huge losses are expected as the consumer might be compelled to import goods and pay in U.S. dollar.