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Critical water shortages in Northern Beqaa and an expected slump in production of potatoes


Al Mustaqbal newspaper published yesterday a report about the current drought that hit a significant agricultural area notably in Northern Bekaa due to low rainfalls and the decreasing volume of ground water which supplies artesian wells especially those used for irrigation, and which has aggravated farmers in Baalbak and its surrounding areas.  According to the report, the current results are all but catastrophic and are likely to further threaten farmers, citizens and the whole country if the government and other public instances do not take concrete steps to declare a water emergency and to find alternative scenarios to overcome the current crisis which is likely to extend to next year.
Member of the farmers' syndicate, Khaled al-Zekra, noted that farmers in Baalbak and its surroundings are suffering from the unavailability of water as wells in the region have dried up by some 60% of their capacity. This has had negative consequences on the quality of their agricultural land including the Baalbak orchards which almost dried out. Zekra warned the population of the surrounding area of an upcoming drought catastrophe especially where potatoes are planted. Indeed, potato have ripened prematurely which will result in a slump in production which will reach 80% and will affect marketing and exports especially since most of the potato harvest is exported to the Iraqi market which was negatively affected by the present security situation there.
The newspaper report added that the situation in remaining regions of Northern Beqaa is relatively similar to that in Baalbak.  The supplies of drinking water have declined because many wells have dried up. Supplies of irrigation water have also regressed thus causing much burden to the population of the area. Indeed, the present situation calls for launce of an emergency plan to mitigate the impact of this disaster especially in terms of human and environmental losses.
Source: Al-Mustaqbal 15 July 2014

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