File - Tractors destroy cannabis crops in Yammouneh, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. (The Daily Star/Nidal Solh)
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The government's decision to begin destroying cannabis farms in the Bekaa Valley Thursday has angered impoverished farmers whose livelihoods rely heavily on drug production, with doubts arising as to whether the policy can continue to be implemented amid the unstable security and political situation in Lebanon."We call on all the authorities to take into account our very poor living conditions, because we want to live just like everyone else, especially since the agricultural season in the Bekaa [Valley] this year is at its worst because of the severe drought that has damaged all kinds of crops," said Ali Nasri Shammas, a well-known grower in the region who is acting as spokesman for the illegal industry. Cannabis farmers in the area have previously vowed to defend their crops with their lives, and Shams stressed that farmers were ready to face the authorities, whether by protesting and blocking roads or more violent means. Jaafar pointed to several programs to lift the Bekaa Valley's farmers out of poverty – and thus reduce their reliance on cannabis – that had yet to be implemented.
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