GIEWS Country Brief: Lebanon 03-October-2019

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Average cereal harvest gathered in 2019
  2. Cereal import requirements in 2019/20 expected to remain close to average
  3. Large number of Syrian refugees remains

Average 2019 cereal crop harvested

Harvesting of the 2019 winter barley and wheat crops was completed by July. Most of the 2020 winter cereals will be planted in November after seasonal autumn showers replenish soil moisture.

In 2019, total cereal production was estimated at about 176 000 tonnes, 7 percent above the 2018 harvest and similar to the five‑year average due to favourable weather conditions. While domestic cereal production is limited by landscape, production of fruits and vegetables is important in terms of GDP contribution and employment. Although the agriculture sector employs only 11 percent of the total labour force at national level, it is a primary source of income and employment in rural areas where it reaches up to 25 percent of the labour force and 80 percent of the local GDP.

Average cereal import requirements in 2019/20

Domestic cereal production covers, on average, less than 20 percent of the consumption needs and the country depends heavily on imports. In the 2019/20 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirements, mainly wheat for human consumption and maize to feed livestock and poultry, are forecast at an average level of 2 million tonnes, similar to the previous year. The current import requirement is almost double of the quantities imported before the onset of the Syrian crisis in 2011 that led to increased numbers of refugees in the region. Wheat is sourced mostly from the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

In August 2019, the yearly general inflation was estimated at 1.2 percent, the lowest rate since October 2016. The decrease was supported mostly by a slowed price increase for food and non‑alcoholic beverages, which in August 2019 increased only by 0.6 percent compared to one year earlier. The Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Economy and Trade subsides the price of local flat bread, while prices of other bakery products (baguettes, sandwich bread, etc.) are set freely.

Large number of Syrian refugees remains

As of September 2019, about 930 000 Syrian refugees were registered in the country. Since the beginning of the civil unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic in March 2011, the number of refugees registered in the country reached 1.18 million in May 2015. This number has been decreasing since then following the tightening of entry and residency rules for Syrian nationals since January 2015 and the start of slow-paced voluntary returns to the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) 2017‑2020 estimated that there are about 3.3 million people in need of assistance in the country, including 1.5 million vulnerable Lebanese, 1.5 million displaced Syrians (including not registered refugees) and 300 000 Palestinian refugees.