Islam Alatrash
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Libya's tomato wealth struggles to survive

Tripoli, Libya Science & Environment 21 Jan 2023

Tomato cultivation in the oases region of Libya is subject to heavy losses due to the spread of some pests that farmers do not have effective pesticides to combat.

Tomato farms extend in the oases of Awjila and Gallo (370 km southwest of Benghazi) between oil and gas fields on an area of 6,000 hectares, and annually produce 500,000 tons of the tomato crop, whose season begins in September and continues until March.

Farmers export their crops to the Libyan coastal strip because their cultivation is only successful in specific areas, including the oases region.

And due to the abundance of production, poor marketing, and the absence of factories, this is what farmers do with their crops

However, the danger that threatens the rotation of the wheel of the economy through the cultivation of tomatoes in the region is the agricultural pests that attack the vegetative part, the stem of the plant and its fruits, especially the butterfly (Tuta absoluta), in addition to other fungal diseases that destroy the leaves and branches of the plant, which causes damage to the fruits so that they become hollow and sponge-like. It is a reservoir for the growth of insects and fungi, and here pesticides should be used!

It does not seem so easy, as farmers fear using pesticides of unknown origin because they “might cause cancerous diseases,” despite their keenness to “expire the necessary period of time before harvesting the crop.” Rather, they give an additional period as a “precautionary measure!”

Before the events of February 2011, farmers used to combat these diseases and pests by using French and American pesticides and medicines of guaranteed origin, so that they sprayed the crop once every 15 days, but today they get pesticides from Chinese and Indian companies who do not guarantee their exact sources “because there are no specialized bodies for detection and testing.” and quality assurance.”

Farmers say: Currently, pesticides are bought from the black market, and there are pesticides that are banned globally because they cause damage if used without strict time controls.

They added that we have no choice but to continue to confront these pests in this way, otherwise the entire crop will perish.
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