Saturday, June 16, 2007

Subsidizing the rich

Lebanon subsidizes wheat farming, did you know that? On the face of it it is a good thing: apparently 12,000 ha are planted by 1200 farmer (assuming the figures are correct). The government buys the wheat at prices higher than market prices. And it doesn't cost much: $ 4 million per year. Problem is, many rich land owners take advantage of this and grow huge areas in order to cash the subsidy. Look at the figures: 12,000 divided among 1,200 farmers makes 10 ha per farmer. This is way above the mean land area held by Lebanese farmers (closer to 2 ha). In my village, no one sells the wheat back to the government. people use it to make burghul and freek, because the high yielding varieties are not good for that.

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