Farmer Mohammed Al-Wahidi walks through the family farm and starts harvesting the citrus fruit, south of Gaza city.
Mohammed picks pomelettes, which are a hybrid citrus fruit resulting from combining pomelos and grapefruits. They are sweet and very juicy.
This year’s harvest “is relatively good, as each medium-large tree holds about 70-100 kilogrammes of fruit,” the farmer explains.
The Ministry of Agriculture had expected a decline in local produce this year due to the lack of cultivated land and the reluctance of farmers to plant citrus fruits given the saltiness of the water in Gaza.
According to the ministry, the latest statistics indicate that the amount of land planted with citrus this year reached about 4,600 acres, including about 1,900 acres of new land. Last year’s production reached 28,000 tonnes.
The centre also added that this year’s citrus production does not meet the needs of the Gazan market, as this year’s needs are over 40,000 tonnes, 27 per cent more that is being produced. Palestine is the top citrus producer in the Arab world.
Citrus is harvested from November to April, and each kilogramme makes an average of $1 in the local market.
The citrus fruits planted in Gaza include pomelos, pomelettes, grapefruits, clementines, mandarins and several types of oranges, including navel oranges, Valencia oranges and Jaffa oranges.
Due to their many health benefits, and high vitamin C concentration, they have been given the nickname “yellow gold” by farmers.