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September 20, 2010
Insect destroys Chouf's mountain tomatoes

Insect destroys Chouf's mountain tomatoes

CHOUF: An unusual insect has destroyed over 80 percent of mountain tomato crops in the Chouf, and farmers are complaining the Agriculture Ministry is not doing enough to tackle it.
The bug, which appeared during the summer and is believed by local farmers to be a product of the unusually hot weather, has been threatening the harvest of mountain tomatoes – a type of Lebanese tomato which is bigger than other breeds and is grown toward the end of summer.
The insect was dubbed “the black butterfly” by local farmers, who said the damage it is causing is tremendous.
Barouk farmer Ramez Zahreddine told The Daily Star that over 80 percent of this year’s crop has been destroyed and the insect is continuing to cause damage. “It starts by eating away at the leaves and then infiltrates the fruit and lays its eggs deep inside the plant … It’s multiplying quickly because of the weather,” he said.
Farmers are struggling to control the insect because of its fast movement and reproduction, but also because of a lack of pesticides.
Only one type of insect repellent is currently available, but farmers claim it is not effective. They have asked the Agriculture Ministry to intervene and provide the necessary chemicals

“This is one of the most dangerous problems we’ve encountered in Lebanon … This is a test for the ministry,” said farmer Toufiq Abu Alwan.
arvesting mountain tomatoes is the main source of livelihood for many in the Chouf.
Hassan Halawi said he has invested LL27 million into cultivating mountain tomatoes this year but has only earned LL 5 million back

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Lebanese Cabinet takes strict measures on food safety   August 3, 2010

Lebanese Cabinet takes strict measures on food safety

SRF Hopes wide success of these measures.

Following Tuesday’s cabinet session, Information Minister Tarek Mitri told the press the cabinet agreed to form a commission to coordinate between relevant institutions on managing problems related to food safety. 

Agriculture Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan said Monday that authorities discovered a shipment of spoiled sesame seeds at the Beirut port as well as spoiled food in a company in the Bekaa.

The new commission includes Prime Minister Saad Hariri and ministers Hussein al-Hajj Hassan, Mohammad Safadi, Ibrahim Najjar, Ghazi Aridi, and Apraham Dadayan, Mitri said.

Hariri stressed those compromising food safety would be punished and praised Hajj Hassan’s related efforts.

SRF Hopes wide success of these measures.

-NOW Lebanon