by Dana Halawi
BEIRUT, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon's agriculture sector has for the past few years faced several challenges including competition by neighboring countries, harsh weather conditions and the closure of borders facing the export of Lebanese produces.
However, farmers in southern Lebanon have, in addition to the challenges listed above, been suffering from damage to their fields and orchards caused by wild boars.
Fadwa Ghida, a farmer from Hasbaya in the eastern sector of south Lebanon, told Xinhua she has been waiting for months to harvest a large amount of her cowpeas and broad beans from her field adjacent to the Hasbani River.
Unfortunately, her field was invaded with a herd of boars and her crops were destroyed.
Ghida said that pigs destroyed her field and deprived her from the proceeds of selling her crops which are estimated at about 2,000 U.S. dollars.
She added that the number of wild boars on the borders in the south have remarkably increased and they have destroyed 90 percent of her crops.
Likewise, farmer Walid Zerkta said that herds of pigs attacked his 10,000-square-meter orchard and destroyed his apples and pears trees.
"My losses range from 8,000 to 9,000 U.S. dollars due to attacks by wild boars. We have failed in putting an end to their damage amid an unexplainable neglect by the interior, agriculture and environment ministries," he said.
Farmer Bassel Kadri said that Lebanese security forces and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon prohibit hunting on the borders while adding that his corn orchard in Halta was totally destroyed by pigs during three nights only.
Another farmer Jalal Abou Hassan finds a way to get rid of pigs by spreading poisoned fruits at the entrance of farms.
"We also place iron traps to catch pigs, but this method is ineffective in light of the large numbers of pig herds, with each herd including between 15 and 25 pigs with a variety in sizes," he said.
Farmers have tried to contact municipalities and ministries to seek help without reaching any positive results in this regard.
Head of the municipality of Al Mari, a village in Hasbaya, Youssef Fayyad told Xinhua that he has taken the initiative of allowing farmers to protect their fields from pigs at night by shooting herds using their hunting rifles.