Lebanon’s moderate climate, rich soil, and abundant water resources provide it with key enablers to stand out in the region as an ideal location for agricultural activity. Rainfall in the country remains relatively abundant, at an average of 2.2 billion cubic meters per year, significantly higher than the regional average.
Major regions for crops, meadows and pastures include the Bekaa plain (where more than 40% of the land is cultivated), the North, especially in Koura and Akkar, and the South with the coastal region from Sidon to Tyre (where intensive agriculture is also present in greenhouses). Mount Lebanon and Nabatiyeh are also important agricultural zones, albeit with lower shares of cultivated land due to their rough landscape.
KEY FACTS AND FIGURES:
In 2017, the agriculture sector generated around 5% of Lebanon’s GDP with its contribution growing at a CAGR of 2% between 2004 and 2017.
It employs roughly 11% of the Lebanese labor force and is the 3rd largest employer in the country.
Exports of fruits and vegetables products have been on the rise over the last couple of years reaching 1.1 million USD (294 thousand tons) in 2018 mostly driven by increasing demand from Gulf countries for fresh produces.
Key agricultural and livestock products include fruits which accounted for 39% of total agricultural exports in 2018; vegetables which accounted for 20.4% and coffee and spices accounting for 19.7%. Livestock exports accounted for 5% of total agricultural exports.
Banana exports registered the highest exports share accounting for 28% of the total fruits exports in 2018 followed by malus including apples and pears (19%) and grapes (15%).
Potatoes accounted for the highest share of vegetables exports with 37% of the total in 2018 followed by lettuce (23%) and dried leguminous (17%).
Coffee exports accounted for 62% of total coffee and spices exports in 2018 followed by the export of ginger, saffron and turmeric accounting for 28%.
Bulbs and tubers; live sheep and goats; and exotic fruits (dates, figs, pineapples, avocado, mangoes …) were identified as Lebanese agricultural and livestock products with high potential for growth given their export trend data. Exports of bulbs and tubers registered a CAGR of 53% between 2009 and 2018 while live sheep and goats increased by 27%, followed by exotic fruits with 20%.
Lebanon’s main export markets for agricultural products remains the Middle East accounting for 76% of total exports in 2018. Five major Arab countries represent Lebanon’s main export markets with a 58% share: Syria (15%), Saudi Arabia (13%), Qatar (12%), UAE (9%) and Kuwait (8%).
Highest proportion of fertile agricultural land in the Middle East: Agricultural areas cover around 65% of the Lebanese territory (nearly equivalent to 6800 km2).
Moderate climate and abundant water resources: Lebanon’s climate contributes to its unique biodiversity allowing the cultivation of 60+ types of crops and 10+ livestock products.
Governmental support: The government through IDAL provides agriculture exporters with financial and non-financial support aimed at increasing exports and widening access to new markets. Moreover, the Ministry of Agriculture has a dedicated center for Research and Development called the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) that supports the development of the sector.
Access to competitive financing: The Central Bank of Lebanon offers subsidized loans for the agriculture sector to support the development and expansion of productive industries including agriculture production.
International treaties and agreements: Lebanon’s exports benefit from favorable export terms and access to external markets thanks to a number of bilateral and multilateral agreements most notably EU- Lebanon Association Agreement, EFTA, GAFTA, GSP…
Lebanon economic vision: The Lebanon economic vision developed by Mckinsey Consultancy in 2018 identified the agriculture sector as a priority sector to be supported by the Lebanese government in terms of export and investment promotion. This is expected to accelerate growth in the sector in the short to medium term.
Agrytech cluster: Berytech, a major startups incubator, launched in 2019 the agrytech cluster, QOOT, to support innovation in the agriculture sector and help in the development of new innovative products that can be exported.
*Source: Lebanese National Accounts
AGRICULTURE FACT BOOK 2017
Agriculture Investment Incentives
INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR 2017