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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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Pesticides shops must abide by legal guidelines  August 3, 2010

Pesticides shops must abide by legal guidelines, Hassan warns
By The Daily Star

Thursday, July 15, 2010 
BEIRUT: Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan threatened on Wednesday to close pesticides shops if they do not abide by the legal conditions imposed by the ministry.

“We are aiming at strengthening the cooperation between the Agriculture Ministry and pesticides companies and we want this cooperation to be based on scientific and transparent rules,” he said.

His remarks came during a meeting held at the headquarters of the engineers syndicate in Beirut in the presence of the president of Branch VII of the Order of Engineers Walid Sandid and the vice president of the Arabic Union of the Agricultural Engineers Fakhr Dakroub, in addition to representatives of pesticides importing companies in Lebanon.

Hassan said that it should not be possible to buy pesticides in Lebanon without an official permit from the Agriculture Ministry which will protect citizens’ health and prevent the occurrence of any safety problems. 
Moreover, he assured that not all companies are violating laws and some are respecting the safety rules and importing their products accordingly.

He added that Lebanese agricultural production is not that big, therefore it should be easy to control safety issues. “We previously faced a lot of exportation problems with Arab and European countries but today we should be able to go on with our reforms because Lebanese citizens deserve a clean product,” he said.

Hassan said that Kfarshima laboratory is now ready to do all the required tests. “We are also ready to discuss with companies the time needed to get  these tests over with and come up with the required results,” he added. “The ministry is working closely with the private sector and companies’ owners to make the best decisions and reach the best results for a clean and safe agricultural product.”

– The Daily Star