Monday, February 2, 2009

Rotten weather

3 important news items in Al Safir today:

1. The brown rot crisis: Potatoes allegedly produced in Lebanon and exported through Syria were found to be infected with brown rot. This is a very infectious soil-borne bacterial disease that can decimate whole harvests. Products from countries which are found to have brown rots are rejected in order to stop the spread of the infection. The brown rot crisis emerges every year, and Syria uses it to put pressure on Lebanon, but it looks like this time it is for real. The cause is most likely to be Egyptian potatoes and seed potatoes which are imported and re-exported (for potatoes) an imported illegally (for seed potatoes). This is what happens when you have no control, and rapid profits are more important than system building.

2. The drought: in spite of the few days of rainfall we've recently had, we are still below the annual average: 238mm in the Bekaa, while the long term average for this time of the year is 355mm.

3. The water crisis could turn nasty: More on the Oyoun Urghush springs and the local water conflicts.

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