On Wednesday, March 2, 2011, the Agro Mashov International Agriculture Exhibition opened at the Israel Exhibition Center in Tel Aviv, when for the first time in the exhibition`s history a booth was set up to promote Palestinian agricultural produce from Judea and Samaria. Among the Palestinian farmers participating in the exhibition was a group of nearly 20 farmers from the Gaza Strip.
This was the 21st “Agro Mashov” exhibition, conducted under the shadow of a global food crisis, in which participants representing companies from around the world came to learn about the newest innovations in the field of agriculture, represent their products and promote agricultural joint ventures.
This year’s exhibition was attended by thousands, among them approximately 400 Palestinian farmers from Judea and Samaria and another some 20 from the Gaza Strip, headed by Dr. Ismail Daiq, the Palestinian Minister of Agriculture and the chairman of the Farmers’ Association in Gaza. The arrival of the Palestinian farmers was initiated and coordinated by the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria together with the exhibition’s organizers. Because of its size the Palestinian contingent that attended the exhibition was quite prominent, second only to the Israeli delegation.
During the day COGAT, Major General Eitan Dangot visited the Palestinian booth and afterwards met with the Israeli Agriculture Minister, Ms, Orit Noked and her Palestinian counterpart Dr. Ismail Daiq with the objective of discussing additional means to improve the agro-economic cooperation between the two peoples. During the meeting Dr. Daiq asked COGAT to exercise every effort to prevent further damage and vandalization of Palestinian olive trees by Jewish vandals. General Dangot informed the participants attending the exhibition about the export of cherry tomatoes from Gaza and the decision to examine the means and opportunities for exporting additional agricultural produce from Gaza.
In his opening remarks, the exhibition’s president, Mr. Avshalom (Abu) Vilan said, “As farmers we have been cooperating for many years, instead of transferring the political confrontation to the issue of Israeli agricultural produce abroad, we are also marketing abroad produce coming from Judea, Samaria and Gaza”.
The active Palestinian participation at this years exhibition was made possible thanks to the cooperative efforts of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, under the leadership of the administration’s agriculture staff officer, Mr. Samir Moaddi, together with Palestinian farmers as part of an effort to improve and promote the agricultural sector in the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Moaddi noted that “the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria took an active role in the exhibition and we worked in close cooperation with the managers of ‘Agro Mashov’. We are attempting to enable farmers from the Palestinian Authority to gain exposure to the Israeli consumer so that he can sell his agricultural produce, as well as become exposed to the most innovative technologies in the field of agriculture with the objective of assisting in the development in the field and provide them with needed professional assistance”.
The Palestinian minister also spoke before exhibition attendees and said “We in the Palestinian Authority are participating in this exhibition and other similar exhibitions for a number of years now; however, what is so special this year is our active participation and our special exhibition booth representing the Palestinian Authority”. With regards to the relationship between the authority and Israel, the Palestinian agriculture minister noted that “there have always been positive relations concerning agriculture, between Israeli and Palestinian farmers”.
The Palestinian exhibition booth exhibited a wide and varied collection of locally produced agro-products including olive oil, beer, dates and agricultural tools. Within the exhibition’s framework, farmers attempted to promote future economic joint ventures and studied the newest technological developments and innovations in the field.
“Aside from the fact that the event provides Palestinian farmers with important professional assistance, it is also an expression of cooperation between the parties, and I am confident that this cooperation will continue in the future as well”, Mr. Moaddi concluded.