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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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Lebanon launches environmental initiatives with international funding  September 6, 2010
Lebanon launches environmental initiatives with international funding

September 06, 2010 BEIRUT -

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Environment launched four environmental studies that will cost $5.6m and will be financed by the Lebanese government over a four-year period, Byblos Bank's Lebanon This Week reported.
One study will develop a strategy to combat pollution in the Litani River and the Qaraoun Lake, while the other studies will cover the development of permits required for quarrying and to address the reorganization of dumping sites. Further, the Italian Development Cooperation Office approved a project to build wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations, and to install sewage pipes in the villages of Hrajel and Mechmech.
The project will be financed by soft loans of €14m. It also approved a project, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, which aims to encourage the production of electricity from solar energy by installing more than 900 photovoltaic panels in public buildings. Italy will provide a €1m grant to finance the project. In parallel, the Kuwait fund for Economic Development announced that it will contribute up to 70% to the renovation of the historic Beaufort Castle in Southern Lebanon that will cost $3m.
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