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Cannabis growers in Beqaa slam the government

12-10-2017

An Nahar featured today the cultivation of cannabis in Beqaa as a compensation for losses associated with traditional agriculture and for government’s lack of support. In this respect, the newspaper reminded of the government 1992 alternative agriculture project aimed to encourage Baalbaq and Hermel farmers to substitute the cannabis with other crops that can generate higher proceeds. To recall, the project was set to last until 2006 at an estimated cost of USD 300 million provided by the United Nations agency in charge of the project. An Nahar drew attention to large-scale corruption and political interventions that stopped the project in 2000, while noting that the UN pledged contributions did not exceed USD 20 million. Pointing to the close start of the harvest and to the wastage of the past three seasons which was not a priority for the government, the newspaper wondered if the latter stimulated this cultivation by turning the blind eye. On the subject, An Nahar spoke to a number of farmers who said they have been duped by the attitude of slackness and inaction of the Lebanese State. They said they are planting cannabis to live, while noting the consequences of their illegal status. Some 36,000 arrest warrants have been issued against them for drugs and illegal trade involvement, they told An Nahar reporter. While the agriculture situation is calamitous, and the Beqaa farmers are left to the mercy of undesirable weather hazards and avaricious merchants, they proposed setting up an integrated agricultural program and establishing a cost-effective alternative agriculture, aided with government support throughout all stages of production. (An Nahar, October 12, 2017)

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