The Gaza Strip is expected to export at least one thousand tons of strawberries to Western Europe this year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, strawberry farmers in Gaza have had a successful year in Beit Lahiya, in the north of the Strip. Around 250 acres of land is currently under cultivation and is expected to produce 3,000 tons of produce per annum, of which 1,000 is earmarked for export.
The Agriculture Minister, Dr Ramadan Agha, accompanied journalists on a tour of the farms along with members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, to showcase some of the top quality strawberries that will hit the European markets soon. Dr. Agha stated that cultivating the crops was a direct challenge to the illegal blockade that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for five years.
Despite the Israeli-imposed blockade, the conditions of which stipulate that only Israeli companies can export goods, keeping the bulk of the profits in Israeli hands while Palestinian farmers get a pittance for their hard work, the strawberries are expected to reach the market. The government of Holland has been instrumental in ensuring that the Palestinian strawberries can be exported directly, and the Minister of Agriculture thanked the Dutch government for its role in persuading the Israeli authorities to facilitate this. The strawberries will be allowed to leave the Gaza Strip via the Israeli-controlled Kerem-Shalom crossing.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad