The founder of the project Sabara (cactus) is Afaf Massoud, a first-year interior design student at Al-Aqsa University. She started the project eight months ago after finishing high school in order to bear the cost of her higher academic studies.
Afaf, 18, established the cactus nursery on her family's farm in the Jabalia area in the northern Gaza Strip. This project has since become one of the largest nurseries that produce cactus.
Afaf relied on the experience of her father, an agricultural engineer, who helped her establish this nursery and guided her toward the success of this project.
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Afaf launched this project having only ten cacti, some of which she nurtured herself. The number has increased to around 400 to 500 cacti. Now, she owns about 40 species, planted in the garden of their house and taking advantage of all the available space in the house. She put some of her plants on the balcony and others on the roof of the house.
As for the characteristics of the cactus, she mentioned that it is a long-living plant capable of enduring any climatic conditions. The life expectancy of this plant increases whenever irrigation is delayed, because it is a desert plant and grows in drought areas. Selling cactus is a successful business because the older the cactus is, the better the price becomes.
The price of the cactus Afaf is offering is worth two dollars and even more.
The world of cactus is a large and strange one as it is not merely a green plant. It includes different species and each of them has different characteristics. The cost of some of these species amount to two million dollars, and some others take twenty years to bloom only.
She explained that there are more than 2,000 species of cactus in the Gaza Strip, and globally there are more than five billion species.
She pointed out that she does not have a shop where she can display her products. In addition to using Facebook to promote her products and participating in exhibitions, Afaf also displays her cacti in commercial centres.
At such an early age, Afaf has become a successful entrepreneur, amid the harsh conditions of the siege over the Strip, closure of crossings and low income and resources.