• Monday, June 3, 2024 at 1:14 PM
    Last Update : Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at 10:07 AM

South Lebanon Farmers Harvest Wheat Early for Fear of Israeli Bombings

(AWP) - Farmers in southern Lebanon have been forced to harvest their crops prematurely for fear of the Israeli bombardments that have already burnt swathes of wheat farms in the tense areas along the border.

An early harvest means decreased yields, but many farmers are opting for ‘the bird in the hand’ to avoid the risk of Israeli strikes that could further sabotage their fields.

“We are harvesting early this year because of the war, because the atmosphere here in the south is war. We are afraid that our livelihood will be burned, so we are harvesting as much of the crop as possible early,” said Zain Jabr, a farmer from the village of Ibl al-Saqi in Marjayoun plain, southern Lebanon.

His fellow farmer, Audile Salameh, bemoaned her inability to approach the fields adjacent to the border with Israel.

“In the area adjacent to Metula, we cannot go down to the field, because if we do, we will be bombed directly, and if we try to harvest with the harvesting machine, we will also be at risk of bombing, and if we collect it, they will burn it, so there is no confidence that we would be safe in that area. They could burn us altogether by shelling. They could throw a thermal balloon at us, and we would burn, along with the wheat,” she said.

Ali Abdul Hussein said that all farmers in the area are afraid of getting close to their fields during strikes.

“I was preparing a bag of chemical fertilizer to spray, and then there was a bombing, so I left and did not return for a week. When the situation calmed down, I returned, and when the bombing happened again, I fled. It is not just me. Everyone here does this,” the farmer added.

According to the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture, the area of land cultivated with wheat in Lebanon exceeds 300,000 dunums, with an annual production of 125,000 tonnes, while the country’s wheat needs range between 450,000 and 550,000 tonnes annually.

For years, agriculture has been the backbone of the economy of the border villages in southern Lebanon, where about 70% of the population work in farming, according to unofficial estimates.