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Lebanese Agricultural Minister blasts merchants for exporting spoiled potatoes

November 16, 2011
Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan (Lebanon) accused some merchants of exporting spoiled potatoes, warning he would not hesitate to reveal the names behind the shipment of such agricultural produce if they continue they behavioral pattern.

Waving photos of rotten potatoes, the minister said he has concrete and undisputed evidence that some wholesalers and merchants have been regularly shipping decayed potatoes to some Arab states.

Saudi Arabia recently stopped importing Lebanese potatoes to the kingdom because most of these potatoes and fit for human consumption.

The Saudi ambassador to Lebanon raised this issue with the minister who promised to investigate the complaints.

Saudi Arabia is one of the main importers of Lebanese potatoes and this moratorium will deal a blow to the local farming sector.

“The ministry did not take any arbitrary measures against exporters and farmers but we are determined to ensure that all exported potatoes meet international standards and are fit for consumption,” the minister said.

He added that two trucks were loaded with potatoes that headed to Saudi Arabia and Jordan were rejected entry to these countries because these potatoes were decayed.

The association of the Bekaa farmers threatened to observe a strike if the minister insisted on examining the potatoes before their shipment to other countries.

But Hajj Hasan threatened to reveal the names of the traders and exporters who refuse to examine the potatoes before shipment.

“It’s time for those who manipulate the prices of agricultural products to leave and they have no right to speak in the name of farmers,” said the minister.

The minister stressed that from now on any potatoes or agricultural produce that fail to pass inspection will be quarantined and will not be allowed to leave the country.

Hajj Hasan thanked Saudi Arabia for re-opening its market to Lebanese goods after it received assurances that all products would be thoroughly examined by the Lebanese authorities.

“We assured all countries we visited that our agricultural produce is of top quality but some merchants tried to export bad potatoes and kept the good ones at home,” he said.