Fruit and vegetable exports from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia are worth around $36 million. Lebanese farmers were already reeling from the country's economic collapse. However, the two and a half month import ban on all Lebanese agricultural products imposed by Saudi Arabia could decimate the struggling industry.
Lebanon is not a big country, but because of its geography, climate, fertile soil and average rainfall, it has the highest percentage of agricultural land in the region, at around 65% of its total area of just under 10,500 km2, although around half is non-productive. The Lebanese agricultural sector had generated nearly $2 billion in revenues in 2019, with exports largely sent to the Arab Gulf states, including 22% to Saudi Arabia, 17% to Qatar and 12% to Syria.
Following the 2019 financial collapse, the Lebanese economy has contracted by about 30% since 2017 and is expected to contract further in 2022. Farmers have been hit particularly hard with the cutting off of their main export market of Saudi Arabia after the Kingdom in late October 2021 barred all Lebanese agriculture from entering its borders, citing a series of recent drug smuggling attempts, allegedly hidden in fruit and vegetable shipments.
Lebanese trucks are not allowed to traverse Saudi Arabia's territory, which has hampered their access to other Gulf markets severely as shipments must now travel by sea.