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Picking problems, the impact of the war on Gaza on strawberry farms

January 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm

One of Gaza’s most popular agricultural products is strawberries. This is a large yielding crop that requires great care. The fruit can be exported either fresh or frozen.

The strawberry-picking season begins in December which is when the fruits are at their ripest, according to the farmers. Beit Lahia in the north of the Gaza Strip is known for planting and producing the best types of strawberries.

The plants are imported in May and are grown in nurseries. They are then moved to their permanent plot in September normally in greenhouses. They are sometimes planted under plastic mulches.

The plants can bear fruit for up to four years.

This year, farmers faced serious problems in growing their crops, in particular following the large scale destruction to agricultural lands caused by Israel’s war on the enclave last summer. This delayed the planting of crops, destroyed some of the strawberry nurseries, and led to export problems for the farmers.

The delay in planting the strawberries following the war led to late germination, especially for the first batch which is allocated for export to Europe as it coincides with the New Year holiday season.

Agricultural engineer at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture Eid Siyam noted that the volume of strawberries exported this year to Europe since the start of the season amounted to 70 tonnes, 40 per cent less than what is usually exported. They were expecting to export no less than 200 tonnes by the end of the month, which is the end of the exporting season.

Gaza also exported 90 tonnes of strawberries to the West Bank.

Images by MEMO Photographer Mohammed Asad.