By 2016: Independence in agricultural export from the Gaza Strip

A new program of the Dutch Government was presented regarding development of agricultural export from the Strip At a meeting held at the Gaza District Coordination and Liaison (DCL), between the Agriculture Coordinator at the DCL, heads of agricultural association in Gaza and the projects manager from the Netherlands mission in Ramallah.

Date: 01.08.12     Author: Ron Ben Hamo

The meeting was held as part of preparations for the beginning of the next flower export season and provided the Palestinian farmers with an opportunity to raise demands, conclusions and ideas prior to the start of the season.  “The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories supports agricultural export and will assist as much as possible in transfer of inputs for agricultural crops”, said Agriculture Coordinator at the DCL, Mr. Uri Madar.  “Every adjustment will be made in order to perform the export”.

Also, the new export development program initiated by the Dutch Government was presented.  Until now, the Dutch Government operated two different assistance programs, though in light of overlap and collision between the programs and since the persons benefiting from the programs are the same – farmers in Gaza, it was decided to consolidate both programs into one large development program.

“The large difference is that now all elements of cultivating the crops and all processes in the export chain will be transferred to the Palestinian firms and their sole responsibility”, said the Dutch representative.  “The continued activity for 3-4 years from now depends on the promise for developing Palestinian independence in cultivation and export”.

The new program will be based and developed from the past achievements and the work will remain with the same basic group of farmers, though now the main purpose is development of the farmers’ ability until reaching economic independence, as distinct from the old program that had to do with provision of products and training and guidance for farmers in the Strip.

The development and assistance programs of the Dutch began already in 2006.  However, according to the Dutch representative, the duration of this program is an extraordinary matter and thus the objective now is that by 2016 the assistance will be gradually reduced until economic independence is obtained by the agriculture associations in Gaza as to cultivation and export to markets abroad.  “The promise for developing the Palestinians’ independence in this respect is vital for continuation of the program”, summarized the representative.

During the previous export season, over 450 tons of strawberries, 250 tons of tomatoes, 50 tons of pepper and 9,000,000 flower units were exported.  The next export season is due to begin in November.