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Palestinian wheat harvest to be lower this year

May 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture said yesterday that it expects a drop in the wheat harvest this year.

General Manager of Guidance and Rural Development in the Ministry of Agriculture Fathi Abu-Shamaleh said Palestinian farmers grew 26.5 tonnes of wheat so far this year, mostly along the borders with Israel. Farmers reported Israeli attacks on their farms in previous years.

Abu-Shamaleh said: “We expect 4,000 tons of wheat to be produce this year, compared to 6,000 last year; a decrease of 33 per cent.”

The Palestinian farmers in Gaza grow seasonal crops in their farms near the borders with Israel because they are prevented from planting trees. Sometimes, Israeli occupation forces bulldoze the crops without giving an explanation.

According to Abu-Shamaleh, the shortage of rain affected the wheat crop this year. Palestinians cannot use underground water in the border areas.

Palestinians do not have equipment to dig wells deeper than 90 to 100 metres; this means Palestinian wells run dry because the water is used by Israel where wells are thousands of metres deep. This further restricts Palestinian farmers and means that they cannot use their farms in summer.

Abu-Shamaleh said that the best ever wheat crop was in 2001 when the wheat produce was 9,000 tonnes. That amounted to four per cent of Gaza’s annual demand for wheat; this year’s crop is expected to only provide two per cent of the Strip’s needs. Gaza consumes 200,000 tonnes of wheat annually.