Lebanese Minister Blames Donor Nations for Return of Bekaa Pot Crop
Lebanon’s Agriculture Minister Ali Abdullah said on Friday that donor countries’ failure to support development projects in the Bekaa area was responsible for the return of marijuana farming, according to the Daily Star newspaper.
“Illicit plants can't be overlooked, but donor countries must assist the area as much as possible until farmers find profitable alternative crops,” he said, adding that donor states must not link their aid to Lebanon’s political positions.
The Bekaa is returning to drug production on a grand scale since the implementation of eradication programs 10 years ago.
Pledges of foreign aid to encourage alternative crops in the region have not materialized, said the paper.
During the civil war, a breakdown in governmental authority, protection from militias and the functioning of dozens of ports as routes for trafficking allowed the drug trade to flourish.
Marijuana and poppy plants, from which opium is extracted, were cultivated on some 500,000 hectares (1.23 million acres).
According to AFP, experts put Lebanon's drug trade at around $4 billion in 1989, more than 20 percent of the country's GDP at the time.
However in 1992, eager to re-establish its authority, the Lebanese government launched a crackdown on the drug trade and received foreign aid from the United Nations for a crop substitution program – Albawaba.com
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