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Shortage in Irrigation Water is a Main Problem in Lebanon

BeirutA temporary ban is applied by the Lebanese agriculture minister last week as a result of the E. coli outbreak in Europe. The prevention was placed on imported bean sprouts and also samples will be taken of all types of vegetables entering the country. However, vegetable cultivation inside the country is considered a far more serious health issue. Elie Barbour, a microbiology professor said “The complete lack of monitoring in the country is of much greater concern than Spanish cucumbers”. A professor in the American University of explained that standards defining acceptable levels of contamination in water used to irrigate crops are followed by all developed countries.

He also revealed that due to those regulations, the water used to irrigate crops of vegetables eaten raw, such as parsley and tomatoes, should not be contaminated at all, while the water used for products growing above the soil, like wheat, can be slightly contaminated. He said “This is not followed at all in ”. Hussein Hajj Hasan, Agriculture Minister said in an interview with The Daily Star that no government authority monitored agricultural produce, including water used to irrigate crops. He added “During that interview that using sewage water for irrigation was banned by law, but added he has no authority to prevent it”.

Monitoring water used for crops is mainly the responsibility of the Agriculture Ministry, as Barbour stressed. But he also called for cooperation with the Health Ministry as “this issue is of public health”. He continued “In most developed countries, hospitals are obliged to treat their sewage waters themselves, as it is much more likely to contain bacteria and viruses. This is the responsibility of the Health Ministry”, mentioning that water in slaughter houses should also be treated.

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