Palestinian farmers in the Gaza Strip yesterday called on a UN organisation to put pressure on Israel to allow their agricultural products to be marketed in the occupied West Bank.
This came during a sit-in organised by farmers in front of the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in Gaza City.
During the pause, farmers carried banners denouncing the Israeli blockade, calling for urgent intervention by international and local organisations that are working to attain farmers' rights to help them market their produce in the West Bank.
The Director of the Agricultural Cooperative Association, Mohamed Ghaben, told the Anadolu Agency that the farmers were taking action as a result of the hardships they have endured as a result of the continued Israeli siege and to demand that their products be sold in the West Bank.
He continued: "Israel does not allow our products to be marketed in the local Palestinian market [in the West Bank]. It, in addition, bans the marketing of our products in Israeli markets, while Israeli goods are marketed in our markets."
Ghaben pointed out that more than 15,000 tonnes of vegetables such as potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes, stacked in refrigerators as they are surplus to the needs of Gaza's market.
"Next month, new batches of these vegetables will be picked, and if the situation continues, the farms will suffer very heavy losses," he said.
He pointed out that the deterioration of the economic situation in Gaza – due to the Israeli blockade – has weakened the citizens' purchase ability leading to greater food surpluses.
"In addition, the farmer, in case of loss, will be forced to lay off workers on his farm, which leads to an increase in the unemployed rate and poverty," he said.
Late last month, a Palestinian rights group said 85 per cent of the population of Gaza lives below the poverty line due to the Israeli blockade.