04 Jan

Olive-press owners allege lack of government support

By Maher Zeineddine,

As olive presses in the mountainous Chouf region witness excessive activity with the fruit’s harvest season coming to an end and weather conditions getting worse, press owners are criticizing the government’s failure to set up marketing plans for their products. Every year from early November until late January, farmers throughout Lebanon engage in the olive harvest.

Saleh Ghanem, owner of an olive press, told The Daily Star Friday that he was under work pressure this week as the harvest season comes to a close.

“However, this year’s season was not as good as the previous years,” he said.

Ghanem complained about the lack of government policies and plans to market the Chouf’s products, while highlighting the increase in workers’ fees and in the price of diesel and spare parts needed for the presses.
“This in the prices has forced us to increase the cost of olive pressing but in a [reasonable] way so we can continue our work,” said Yasser Sarieddine, another olive-press owner.

Sarieddine called on the country’s officials to establish larger factories in Lebanon that could turn the olive residues into charcoal to be used in olive mills as fuel.

Kamil Halabi stressed the need of Chouf residents to sell their harvest “so they can survive amid the current high cost of living.”

“The price of 20 liters of olive oil has exceeded $100 given that production is lower than the past few years and workers’ fees have increased,” he said.

Urging officials to pay attention to the Chouf residents’ major source of income, Halabi said: “Why don’t they sign international agreements allowing Lebanon to export its olive-oil production especially that our country is now attracting great countries to resolve its political crisis

With olive oil a key ingredient in most traditional Lebanese dishes, it come as no wonder that olive-oil production has played a major role in Lebanese history.

“In order to preserve the oil’s quality and taste, people are called to store it in dark glass containers that are to be placed in a cold and dry atmosphere,” Halabi said.

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