Lebanese Ag Minister Praises Producers’ Success on World Stage

Officials and producers hope the awards will promote Lebanese extra virgin olive oil in foreign markets and spur exports for the crisis-enveloped country.
Abbas Al Hajj Hassan
By Daniel Dawson
Apr. 19, 2023 15:13 UTC

Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Lebanon’s out­go­ing min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture has con­grat­u­lated olive oil pro­duc­ers for their suc­cess at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, accord­ing to media reports.

Abbas Hajj Hassan cel­e­brated the suc­cess of Darmmess, which earned a Gold Award for its medium-inten­sity Souri mono­va­ri­etal.

This Gold Award is the cul­mi­na­tion of years of hard work. It is undoubt­edly a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone for us, our farm­ers, our vil­lage Deir Mimas and Lebanon.- Rose Bechara Perini, founder, Darmmess

Olive oil is a promis­ing prod­uct with which Lebanon can com­pete with most export­ing coun­tries despite the many crises it is going through,” he said.

While win­ners will con­tinue to be announced through April, Lebanese pro­duc­ers have already earned two Gold Awards from six entries at the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

See Also:Prominent Producer Applauds Croatia’s Success at World Competition

MNL Farms, which exports all of its pro­duc­tion to the United States, won the other Gold Award.

The awards come amid a back­drop of con­tin­ued eco­nomic uncer­tainty, loom­ing chal­lenges from cli­mate change, but also a robust 2022 har­vest.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research group, Lebanon’s con­tin­ued eco­nomic uncer­tainty is fueled by polit­i­cal insta­bil­ity, which is expected to con­tinue in the near term.

Even as reforms and debt restruc­tur­ing nego­ti­a­tions start and mul­ti­lat­eral fund­ing begins to flow, the recov­ery will be slow and par­tial from 2023 to 2027, reflect­ing the depth of the ongo­ing eco­nomic, cur­rency, finan­cial and debt crises, as well as the impact of hyper­in­fla­tion and polit­i­cal insta­bil­ity on domes­tic demand,” the group said.

Lebanon’s crises, which have been unfold­ing since 2019, have forced many pro­duc­ers to focus on exports as domes­tic demand has evap­o­rated and the need to bring in hard cur­ren­cies, such as U.S. dol­lars and Euros, to pay for pro­duc­tion expenses became more acute.

Hassan and pro­duc­ers hope that win­ning awards at inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions helps pro­mote Lebanese extra vir­gin olive oils and drive sales.

“[Winning the award] means a lot to all of us and helps sell our oil in the U.S. mar­ket,” Altirs owner Mike Altirs con­firmed. It is a reward for the hard work and improve­ments we strive to do every sea­son.”

With an annual aver­age pro­duc­tion of 60,000 liters, Altirs added that Lebanon’s increas­ingly hot and arid cli­mate is also a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge for pro­duc­ers and makes win­ning awards all the more grat­i­fy­ing.

Meanwhile, Rose Bechara Perini, founder of Darmmess, believes these awards demon­strate the resilience of the coun­try’s olive farm­ers to the over­whelm­ing dif­fi­cul­ties that they face.

Shortages of qual­i­fied labor­ers, ris­ing energy costs and fre­quent black­outs are among the obsta­cles she cited.

This Gold Award is the cul­mi­na­tion of years of hard work,” Bechara said. It is undoubt­edly a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone for us, our farm­ers, our vil­lage Deir Mimas and Lebanon.”


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