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Agriculture in Lebanon: Tightening law on smugglers and impact of drought in Beqaa

3-7-2018

Lebanese Forces LF MP George Okeis warned in a press conference at the Parliament yesterday that agriculture in Lebanon faces serious challenges threatening its continued existence. Okeis also drew attention to the absence of systematic agricultural plans that would set a roadmap for the advancement of the sector. Okeis gave a brief statement on the current situation, including the decline of harvest seasons, relinquished assistance to farmers in marketing and disposal of their production, smuggling of agricultural goods that compete with local produce and the use of sewage and wastewater for irrigation and fertilizing agricultural land, etc. The LF MP also presented a proposal to amend provisions of the Customs Code to the end of tightening penalties and increasing fines on smugglers and accomplices. Also related to the agricultural problems, Al Mustaqbal newspaper addressed the general impact of drought on the Beqaa region which is actually endangering the fields and crops in the area. In this respect, the newspaper listed a number of irrigation methods increasingly employed in the Beqaa plains, namely, drip irrigation for specific crops, like vegetables and fruit trees, and the sprinkler system for crops that require large quantities of water, like potatoes, corn and cabbage. The newspaper also mentioned a third method through water well extraction, where water is drawn and pulled through a one meter or deeper trench in the fields as a way to collect water for use in irrigation. This technique, Al Mustaqbal explained, involves serious environmental and health risks, because the collected water becomes increasingly attractive to mosquitoes in a matter of hours and turns into a stagnant pool of smelly water. (Al Mustaqbal, An Nahar, June 30, July 3, 2018)

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