Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Food, farming and cluster bombs in South Lebanon

"Aita al-Shaab, as other agricultural villages in southern Lebanon, is suffering huge economic losses from their inability to farm.Hadjia Habiba has 8,000 square meters of land that have been passed down through generations. Her lands are in parcels scattered on the outskirts of the village. Now in her seventies, Hadjia Habiba has farmed all her life and, like many here, she is economically dependent on her fields.According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agriculture makes up at least 70 percent of the economy in southern Lebanon.Residents in Aita al-Shaab say their economy is 80-90 percent dependent on agriculture, primarily tobacco and olives.Some of Hadjia Habiba’s lands are in Kallit Warda, where the Israeli soldiers were taken; the area still guarded by Israeli troops and she hasn’t been allowed there since last summer.“I didn’t harvest this year at all,” she laments. With hundreds of thousands of bomblets littering the fields, no one dared enter and the crops all rotted. Normally, farmers would be planting at this time, instead the fields are quiet.“We’re still waiting for people to check for cluster bombs, which means I also can’t plant, so there won’t be any harvest this year again either. I live from the tobacco harvest 100 percent. My husband died, so this is how I’ve raised my children.”

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