October 09, 2016

On Too Many Apples

It is fall, and the harvest has started. Next week, I will be picking olives (provided there is no rain), the vineyards are bustling with activity from the grape pickers, and people should be picking apples right now.Only, apples are left hanging on the trees this year. I walked by an orchard this morning, and the place was deserted.

Courtesy of the war in Syria. Lebanese apples used to be exported all over the Middle East. But with Syria at war, transportation through Syria is no longer viable, and sending them by plane will make them too expensive to compete with other apple producing countries. Europe apparently won’t take them either due to the fact that there is no supervision on the (type of) pesticides that are being used.

The apple orchard I raided this morning

And so all the apples are now offered on the local market, which is currently experiencing an apple overload. It’s cheaper for a farmer to leave them on the tree than to hire people to pick, pack and transport them, because the earnings won’t cover the cost, and you end with a loss.

Apples currently sell at 5,000 ($3,30) a crate, whereas they should sell at 17,000 ($10.60) if a farmer wants to make any money at all. Farmers have now demanded that the government help them sell their produce inside Lebanon and abroad. Antoine Howayek, head of the Lebanese Farmers’ Association, says the state should support them by purchasing apple crates, weighing 20 kilograms, for $5.30 each.

This could just be the apple of Snow White

Well, I do not know about Howayek’s experience on dealing with government institutions, but as they’re not even capable of providing constant water and electricity, or picking up the garbage, for that matter, I don’t think his demands are very realistic.

Apparently there are some 300,000 apple farmers (which, I have to say, I find a tad bit too much for a country with some 4 million people. Really? Is it economically sound to have that many apple farmers?) who are facing either bankruptcy, or a mighty hungry winter. But back in 2013 it was already clear we had an overproduction of apples. Unfortunately, when you have an apple orchard, it is not so easy to change to another product.

Bringing home the loot

In the meantime, their apples are rotting on the trees. I can think of some interesting things to do with apples, such as apple vinegar, apple chips, apple juice, apple sauce, apple pie, or better yet, apple cider, but this requires equipment and knowledge which most apple farmers do not have. .

I went home with a bag full of free apples. I think I will go for apple sauce.

Just got this through Facebook:

I'm a priest and an apple farmer living in Tannourrine.
As you know this year was a hard one for us farmers, in terms of selling our apple stocks.
So I decided to lower the prices and sell the apples in bulk.

I invite you to come over to my fields and pick the apples you like, this week, Monday October 10 till Sunday October 16.

You can have 22kg (minimum per person) for 8$ while enjoying the view and fresh clean air of Tannourine.

Also, my fields are close to "Tannourine Cedar Reserve" (10 min away by car).

I hope you can help these apples find a home in your belly and not go to waste.
You'll be also helping local production.
For more information, you can contact me on 03 32 29 01 .

1 comment:

Ibrahim Haidar إِبْرَاهِيمْ حَيدرْ said...

I hope that they make a lot of Apple jam and export it. at least after making the jam jars, the fertilizer/pesticide used information of apples are not required.