Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Focus on the poor

"Dalia Merhi: Can you give your opinion on the ways that Lebanon can tackle the current global food crisis that the poorest in Lebanon and in many countries around the world are now facing?

Rami Zurayk: People in Lebanon and throughout the world don’t have an answer to the current food crisis, or at least an answer that can be translated into policy. There is no doubt that Lebanon needs to regain a certain amount of food sovereignty. It is critical that people in Lebanon are in control of the food that they eat.

In Lebanon we must be able to make a choice on the food we eat, however the current context is that people eat what they are given.

It is critical to think in terms of an agricultural revival. This can’t happen without investment in agriculture and also this can’t happen without realizing that most of the farmers in Lebanon and the entire Arab world are small farmers, they aren’t the big farmers.

Today there are many governments that are saying they want to invest more in agriculture, however they are creating large investment companies that take over land and treat food production like an industry, in which food is another commodity, which solves nothing in the long term .

For a country like Lebanon, focusing on the small farmers first is critical. Working to improve not only the productivity of farmers but also their access to resources, as Lebanon is one of the most unequal countries in the world in terms of land distribution. Fifty percent of Lebanon’s farm land is owned by less than one percent of the population. Without land farmers can’t farm a reality that more and more farmers in Lebanon are facing today."

From the transcripts of an interview with Tadamon! They also asked me about the political situation in Lebanon and the election of Michel Sleiman.

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