The Ministry of Agriculture in the Gaza Strip announced the start of the grape season on Tuesday. Palestinians farmers are trying to fulfil the demand for local produce across the beleaguered territory and self-sufficiency is likely to be achieved.
The General Director of Rural Development, Engineer Mohamed Abu-Komeel, attended the season's inauguration ceremony on a grape farm in the south of Gaza along with several other officials. He pointed out that this is the fifth consecutive year that the Gaza Strip will be self-sufficient in grapes and other agricultural produce. "This was the ministry's target to protect food security in the besieged Strip," he said.
Abu-Komeel expressed his happiness at the yield from Gaza's farms this year, which have around 1,700 acres of land planted with grapevines. "I don't think that we will need to import grapes," he said, noting that the government seeks to protect Palestinian farmers and their produce.
"Thanks to many joint efforts," he added, "the grapes ripen earlier every year and are available at very reasonable prices."
Farmer Hammad Aradeh said that a quarter of an acre of grapevines normally produces from two and a half to three tons of fruit. If there was better irrigation, he said, the yield would be higher: "The land suffers from a water shortage." He called for the Ministry of Agriculture to help farmers to solve the water issue.
Engineer Abu-Komeel said that they are doing their best to help the farmers in Gaza. He blamed the water shortage on excessive Israeli consumption from Gaza's underground water sources via deep wells adjacent to the Gaza border.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad