Agricultural education program held ahead of Gaza export season

Palestinian farmers in Gaza annually export millions of tons of produce to European markets

Date: 13/11/2011, 3:41 PM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

With the agricultural export season due to start at the end of November, and after the finalization of the trade process from Gaza to various European markets, a continuing education program for Palestinian farmers was held last Wednesday (November 9) by the Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza.

As part of the conference, a detailed explanation of the export process was given. This process begins from the moment the product is picked and packed in Gaza, after which it is sent out of Gaza via the Kerem Shalom land crossing and sold in the European market, all while maintaining the freshness and high quality of the products. Furthermore, representatives of the Coordinator of the Government Activates in the Territories (COGAT) have announced that starting next month, an initial pilot program of furniture export from Gaza to Europe will commence.

The conference was part of the ongoing daily cooperation between the Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza and the Palestinians in the agricultural sector. The conference was attended by representatives of both the Agricultural Ministry of Israel and Gaza, observers on behalf of the Quartet, representatives of Israeli exporters, representative of the European States in the PA and a representative of the Kerem Shalom land crossing. All the attendees mentioned the great importance of the cooperation in this field and expressed their hope it would expand to other fields as well.

Mr. Tim Williams, the Quartet Advisor said: “It is important that we will see exports from Gaza and not just from the network of the Dutch project. We know that the Quartet is working and supporting the advancement of this field and that Israel already okayed the export of furniture and textiles, and I expect that from now on we will begin to see exports of furniture already in the coming weeks as was promised.”

This conference is one of many held as part of the initiative to mutually learn, improve and advance the agricultural sector in Gaza, including a host of issues ranging from technological innovation to the control of harmful pests and diseases.

One example of the regular services done by the CLA is teaching Gazan farmers how to treat the severe infestation of the red palm weevil in the past year. This dangerous pest, though tiny in size, is extremely harmful for crops. This pest made its way to Gaza via the illegal tunnel network often used by Hamas terrorist between the Strip and Egypt. Though the existence of these illegal tunnels served as the catalyst for the infestation, the CLA assisted the farmers in Gaza whose crops had been damaged.

During the past year, Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have exported more than 399 tons of strawberries, ten million carnations, 6.5 tons of cherry tomatoes and six million tons of red, green and yellow bell peppers to European markets. In the coming year, Palestinians are expected to export 1,000 tons of strawberries, 20 million carnations and 150 tons of red, green and yellow bell peppers. The exports are carried out thanks to the cooperation between COGAT and the Palestinian agricultural coordinator who work together in order to improve the lives of Gaza’s civilian residents.