The fruit of opportunity is rotting on the branch in the fertile Bekaa Valley, literally. The Syrian civil war has effectively closed the border to trucks carrying exports of Lebanese fruit and vegetables to markets in neighboring countries and beyond.
Now imagine — and this will take some effort — a government responsive to crisis, innovative in plotting solutions and effective in carrying them out. There is the military airport at Rayak in the middle of the Bekaa; why not schedule flights — through the state-owned Middle East Airlines or mobilize Lebanon’s fleet of private jets sitting — to fly shipments of Bekaa-grown produce to Gulf markets for Ramadan? While it would be a form of subsidy and a short-term fix, it would maintain the continuity of supply chains, help farmers and communities over the hump of this current crisis, and generate massive kudos for the Lebanese state — there is no better way to build a cohesive nation than to create a sense in people that their government is looking out for them.
With tourism in decline, the economy stalling and the region in crisis, it is incumbent upon our so-called leaders to use the resources at their disposal to come up with these sorts of innovative solutions to steer the country into the clear. Or tap the entrepreneurial spirit of Lebanon’s private sector to develop creative detours around the country’s economic impasses.
Crisis is a time of opportunity — if only our leaders could lead.