Striking Hunger Pandemic in Lebanon, Citizens Have to Grow their Own Crops Now!
By: Raneem Ghunaim/ Arab America contributing writer As hunger in Lebanon arises, so does panic. Lebanon citizens have faced so much this year from revolutions to sudden reduction in crop production to getting hit by this pandemic. Not to mention the most recent tragic events of the massive explosion that took place in Beirut on August 4, 2020, leaving 135 dead and thousands injured. Now with the current economic situation in Lebanon, prices are rising, and people are financially struggling. Not only that, but farms are now unable to meet the high demand for its products.
In an article written by Al Arabiya coordinator, Nicolas Gholam said, “I guess that it will not be enough, but it will be good enough to ease the load on the balance of payments that we have.” Complete hunger has not struck yet, but farms are running low on produce. As time goes by, demand will increase, and farms will not be able to meet those demands, causing panic in the country and amongst its citizens especially those who are lower or middle class.
Increasing Inflation in Lebanon
Lebanon’s inflation rates from January 2020 Lebanon’s increasing inflation makes it harder for its citizens to cope with such drastic changes. Bloominvest Bank states that “According to the Central Administration of Statistics (CAS), the monthly inflation rate in Lebanon doubled from November’s 3.17% to the end of 2019 at 6.96%. The ensuing inflation rate in the first month of 2020 surged to 10.04%, up from 3.17% recorded in January 2019.” 1,500 Lebanese Lira equals about 1 US dollar. Their currency has lost about 80% of its value.
The Lebanese Lira has been in trouble long before COVID-19 started. It all began when the 2019-2020 Lebanese revolution occurred, also referred to as the October Revolution. Where protesters broke out to protests in Lebanon, this took place because people were not happy with the planned taxes on gasoline. As an “aftermath” to that, prices started to increase, while people’s incomes remained the same. Not to mention after COVID-19 hit Lebanon, many lost their jobs, causing the crisis to increase even more.
Lebanese Lira Value
If one was to go to exchange 1 US dollar, that would equal about 1,500 Lebanese Libra. However, today, if one goes to exchange 1 US dollar at the black market, it would equal about 7500 Lebanese Lira. These numbers are constantly changing, and these prices could go up or down any day. Because of this dollar crisis, companies and people who own businesses are now “forced” to increase their prices to have enough money to import new goods because the Lebanese Lira does not hold the same value anymore. The majority of people living in Lebanon own Lebanese Lira, which, as said before, does not have equal value anymore—causing people to buy less and for the economy to slow down significantly. With that being said, if a person’s income is in dollars, and they exchange their dollars for Lebanese Lira on the black market, they will be less impacted by the economic crisis.
Running Low on Produce
Not only that, but some farmers are now considering exporting their goods in hopes of sustaining their standard prices. Ibrahim Tarchichi, who is the president of the Syndicale of Farmer and Peasants, said, ” I’m scared that we’ll be desperate to export our products. Because the prices will go down and we’ll have to look to export. So the prices remain reasonable, and the farmers can earn a living.” There is a possibility that there might not be enough for everyone.
Food Scarcity 2021?
In an interview, Riad Fouad Saade, who works and is the president of the Centre de Recherche et d’Etudes Agricole Libanais, or CREAL, stresses the urgency of taking action before its too late. He says, “unless the government acts quickly to assess the country’s food needs and support farmers in securing the required supplies for the next planting season, the country is facing “famine in 2021. We will not have enough food for the population.” Statements like such are what arises panic amongst anyone who lives in Lebanon. These consequences will not only impact those who are financially struggling but also the wealthy to some extent. If farmers and other companies that produce food are unable to export and impact successfully, Lebanon will have to face these unfortunate events. Causing hunger to spread throughout the country.
Because of COVID and the steep drop in Lebanese currency, farmers cannot export and import goods as before. However, citizens are recommended to start growing their own fruits vegetables in the comfort of their own homes. By doing so, they will ensure that their food supply from vegetables stays the same. Hopefully, people will not need to resort to this option, but it is always better to be one step ahead.
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