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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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How to control pesticide use in Lebanon   September 8, 2010
How to control pesticide use in Lebanon 

Exposure to pesticides both occupationally and environmentally causes a range of human health problems. It is estimated that nearly 10,000 deaths annually can be attributed to the use of chemical pesticide worldwide. Humans are exposed to pesticides found in environmental media (soil, water, air and food) by different routes of exposure such as inhalation, ingestion and dermal contact. Pesticides most commonly used in Lebanon include organophosphates, pyrethroids, biperidyl, dithiocarbamates and many others. Exposure to these pesticides or hazardous chemicals leads to several health problems that range from asthma attacks to skin rashes as well as chronic disorders like emphysema and cancer. Consequently, there is an urgent need to initiate action to counter the health hazards posed by the use of such pesticides. Also there is a need to draw the focus of all individuals, families, communities and nations to this crucial issue and raise the demand for lesser exposure of the pesticides to humans and animals. The government should introduce a law banning the superficial use of pesticides, while the communities create health awareness among the public by organizing campaigns that would highlight the evil effects of pesticide use. In addition, the government should introduce incentives to encourage as well as support the organic food cultivators, make it mandatory for all pesticide manufacturers to disclose all the ingredients in their products and enact legislation regarding ‘reverse onus’ whereby the producers will be responsible for the safety of the people using their pesticides. This must be accompanied by licensing pesticide applicators and dealers, registering pesticides and performing inspections and investigations in the enforcement of the Pesticide Use Act and the Pesticide Registration Act. These investigations and inspections include, but are not always limited to: Farmers training, Pesticide Use and Follow-up, Applicator Establishment, Marketplace, Records of Use and Sales, Direct Supervision of Technicians, Producer Establishment and Experimental Use.

In addition, there needs to be legislation to demand evidence of the safety of products before they are launched in the market. Kfarshima laboratory, as claimed by Agriculture Minister Dr Hajj Hassan, is equipped with personnel and facilities to perform the necessary tests and issue the required certificates.
Communities and governments should work together toward achieving a total ban on all pesticides that are detrimental to human health. To make this a success, both need to back the cultivators and other crop growers economically so that they change from using pesticides to growing plants organically. In fact, the money that would be saved from spending on health care or treating people affected by exposure to pesticides could be used to support these programs.