History & Overview

Although the potato’s introduction to Lebanon is not well documented, by the mid 1970s the country was an important regional producer with an annual output of about 100,000 tons, about 60 percent of which was exported to markets in other Arab countries, the UK, and even Brazil.

Reliable information on the current status of Lebanese potato production is scarce. Production was severely disrupted by the civil war in the mid-70s, dropping to 30,000 tons in 1976. Some estimates show gross production recovering in the 1980s, although foreign military incursions by Israel and Syria, and political disintegration of the Lebanese state, have continued to interfere with agriculture and foreign trade.

A general decline in agricultural exports was aggravated in 1983 by a boycott of produce from Israeli occupied areas by several Arab countries. Nonetheless, Lebanon continues to be the dominant supplier of potatoes to the Arabian peninsula, accounting for 50 – 80 percent of imported potatoes in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait (Anonymous, 1986, 1985, 1972; FAO, 1986; CIP, 1974).