The signs of happiness and relief are showing on the faces of red date farmers in the south of the Gaza Strip, after a number of traders and agricultural associations started to buy the dates for export. Southern Gaza is known for growing red dates and they will be exported to the West Bank for the first time in 15 years after receiving approval from Israel.
The area used to produce large amounts of dates in the past to be exported, however, after the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, Israel prohibited their export. Many farmers stopped growing the fruit because they suffered losses as their market share had reduced.
Farmers in Gaza used to sell dates from each palm tree in Gaza for no more than $13, but this year the price will increase to approximately $52. This will contribute to covering the losses they sustained in recent years.
In addition to the fact that red dates were sold at low prices in Gaza’s markets, the famers faced the problem of the spread of Red Palm Weevil in the past few years, damaging hundreds of palm trees.
The associations in Gaza will make an effort to export the fruit of 1,000 palm trees, amounting to about 50-80 tonnes.
Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip immediately after Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 and tightened the blockade in mid-2007.
Images by MEMO Photographer Mohammed Asad.