Bee-keepers in the Gaza Strip began their 2012 harvest under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture. The ceremony took place in the only apiary in the territory, located north of Gaza city.
The Minister confirmed that while there is a demand for 400 tons of honey annually, only 200 tons are produced locally.
Farmers attributed the shortfall to the dire economic situation caused by the on-going Israeli blockade, their constant military incursions, and uprooting of the trees upon which the bees depend. The bee-keepers also pointed to the difficulties in gaining access to their farms located close to the border with Israel. At the same time, the Israeli occupation continues to prevent the import of vital equipment needed for testing the quality of honey.
Many bee-keepers in Gaza have been forced to sell their bees because of the unfavourable economic situation. Meanwhile, the Ministry has embarked on a project to establish a laboratory to test the quality of honey and avoid resorting to foreign assistance. In spite of the many difficulties, Gaza still manages to produce a quality of honey that rivals that of neighbouring countries.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad