South East Mediterranean- Agriculture
 Chapter 3 South East Mediterranean
4. Agriculture
 South East Mediterranean- Agriculture

Agriculture along the coastal strip is mostly on sandy soil. Most crops are irrigated, at least part of the time from water drawn from coast aquifers. Agriculture is one of the major economic activities in Gaza, but is less crucial for the local economies of Israel and Egypt. Citrus fruits, vegetables, strawberries and flowers and field crops are among the major crops.

The potential for developing agriculture in northern Sinai will increase with completion of the Egyptian water syphon project and program for land reclamation in the Sinai. Because of its location in relation to world markets, the region can become a major gateway for the export of locally cultivated agricultural products. Export markets for locally grown produce, flowers, and processed foods can be developed in the Gulf countries as well as Eastern and Western Europe.

4.1 Co-operation in Agriculture and Mariculture in the SEMED Region

The SEMED Interim Report identifies five priority sectoral projects in agriculture. Like the other projects selected, these projects focus on developing agriculture in Gaza. Israel is already involved in a multilateral initiative of this source at the Beit Hanoun Farm. A $4 million project is being implemented by the Al Azhar University with the participation of Israel, Morocco and Luxembourg. Other joint projects under implementation include Israeli-Palestinian-Egyptian collaboration in the field of pest control and on-going Israeli training courses involving Egyptian and Palestinian participants.

The proposed SEMED projects involve technology transfer from Israel and Egypt to the Palestinian Authority.

a. Development of Agricultural Laboratories at the Beit Lahia Experimental Farm

Four laboratories are being planned for the Beit Lahia experimental farm site. Initial duration of each laboratory project is three years.

  • Tissue Development of Crops: A three year program, establishing a laboratory and propagation unit to develop improved crop types of flowers, vegetables, strawberries and fruit, focusing on disease resistant and salt tolerant strains. Laboratory operations will require one Palestinian and one Egyptian tissue culture specialist and three lab technicians. Technical assistance will come from Israel, Egypt, Europe and the United States.
  • Biological Control of Plant Pests and Diseases: Establish a scientific staff comprised of one member from each SEMED partner to develop pest control methods using Deutromeycetes and Sesquicillium microfungi. Initial project duration will be three years.
  • Oil Crop Analysis Laboratory: Establishing a laboratory to grade olive and other oils and provide certification for marketing. Technical assistance would come from Egypt or a European country. Initial project duration is three years.
  • Sewage Products and Water Laboratory: Establish a service laboratory for broad spectrum analysis of water to include minerals and pathogens to serve agricultural research, water planners and developers and the fisheries industry. The staff would include one representative from each SEMED partner, with supervision by Israeli and Egyptian technical advisors.

The estimated cost of the proposed laboratories is summarized below:

Estimated Cost of 4 Agricultural Laboratories
(in thousand dollars)



Tissue Culture of Crops


Biological Pest Control


Oil Crop Analysis


Sewage Water Laboratory




Source: Technical Support Unit for the TEAM and SEMED Projects, Final Interim Report for the SEMED Region, June 1997.

b. Research into Safe Usage of Treated Sewage Effluents and Sludge

This project aims at developing practical guidelines for the use of treated sewage products in agriculture in Gaza. Egypt and Israel have accumulated considerable expertise in this field. The research will be conducted at the Beit Lahia experimental farm. At a later stage, additional research can be conducted in El Arish. Technical assistance will be given by an Israeli, Egyptian, European and American specialist. The duration of the project is three years and its estimated cost comes to $311 thousand for the first year.

c. Marketing Information/Research Unit for Agricultural and Maricultural Products

The primary objective of this project is to establish a marketing information/research unit to serve the SEMED partners in establishing a joint marketing organization. The rationale behind the project stems from the opening of several new markets for agricutural and maricultural goods from the SEMED region. It involves setting up a marketing board in Gaza for the Palestinian Authority and creating compertised linkages between each partners information systems and to overseas markets. The estimated cost of this project for the first year comes to $200 thousand.

d. Dairy Farm and Milk Processing Plant

This project would set up a 200-1000 head dairy herd in Gaza and a milk reconstitution and processing plant. It is estimated that 6 million liters of milk can be produced annually. This will be essentially a private sector project, which can involve cooperation with Egypt and Israel. The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture has recently ordered 3000 dairy cows from Austria for distribution throughout the territories. Israeli kibbutzim have offered to supply fodder for this venture. Estimated required capital investment for establishing the herd and setting up the plant comes to $9 million.