Friday, September 22

Farming in Gaza: Blockade and lack of water means constantly starting from scratch

Tawfiq Shalouf is 60 years old, he is refugee of Palestine from an occupied town of Beersheba and lives in the Rafa campin the southern Gaza Strip.

Tawfiq is responsible for 17 members of his family. He lost his job as a farmer in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2000, when he started the second intifada. He then continued his passion for farming in Gaza, even though it is a very difficult path to earn income as agriculture is one of the sectors most affected by the blockade.

“One of our main crops is tomatoes because they tolerate the salinity of the soil and water.” Says Tawfiq

In Gaza, 97% of the water is contaminated. The lack of water and clean water to irrigate food pose many difficulties for the population, especially to earn a living.

The harshness of agricultural work does not come in isolation, added to it are the difficult conditions in which farmers under Israeli blockade carry out their work. The fifteen years of blockade and conflict have damaged or destroyed much of the facilities, including wells, pumps, desalination and wastewater treatment plants. As part of its siege policy, Israel denies trading insecticides and fertilizers with the enclave. Added to these are the constant power outages and lack of fuel.

The last offensive The Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip compounded the suffering of farmers by burning the agricultural crops and the land on which they work. “After each war and each aggression, we start again from scratch” says Tawfiq

Tawfiq says that “recently a concern for solving water problems has arisen. The implementation of water desalination projects has helped improve agricultural production. More crops such as cucumbers, melons, watermelons and strawberries have been planted. Good products that compete in the market.”

The northern Gaza Strip is a perfect place to grow strawberries due to its warm climate during winter. Strawberry is considered to be a staple fruit for most farmers in the city of Beit Lahia, and one of the most important crops in Gaza’s economy. It employs hundreds of women and men, which means income for them and their families.

Arafat Hamdoun is 29 years old, a Palestinian farmer from the city of Beit Lahia.

“Farmers in northern Gaza, in particular, who grow hanging and crushed strawberries, suffer from various obstacles, such as high prices for fertilizers and for tree treatments that eliminate pests that harm the plants.”

Despite all these struggles and harsh living conditions, the Palestinian farmers in Gaza continue to claim and demand funding and measures to have a better framework, in addition to the need to launch many projects and programs to support to the farmers and farmers of the Strip.