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Roundup: Gaza fruit growers lose out amid competition from Israeli produce

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  Despite a bumper crop Gaza s fruit growers facing competition from cheaper Israeli produce see only a bleak outlook for their business this year Abdullah Abu Khousa a strawberry farmer from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip said that since the harvest season began in November he has been able to export just 0 2 tonnes of his crop each week to the West Bank For years even during the Israeli blockade I was exporting at least six tons of strawberries every week which sold for 2 3 a kilo said the 48 year old father of five adding that 80 percent of its production was used for export to Europe Israel and the West Bank But now the situation has completely changed as Israeli products flooded with cheaper prices he complained As a result farmers have to lower the prices of their fruits in the West Bank to compete with their Israeli counterparts Now each kilogram of strawberries was selling for just US 1 2 he said In Gaza there are around 3 600 hectares of land planted with strawberries producing at least 8 000 tons of fruit each season according to the Hamas run agriculture ministry We are stuck in a dilemma I can barely earn enough money to pay for operating expenses and the salaries of my workers Abu Khousa said The same problem has been encountered with citrus farmers who are supposed to harvest some 44 000 tons of citrus on 18 4000 hectare land from November to February according to statistics released by the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture Taiseer al Dahdouh a Gaza based citrus farmer complained that he has not made any profit from his 5 8 hectare land for the past five years in a row Year after year he explains costs have doubled due to rising prices for fertilizers pesticides and the fuel used by transportation vehicles However the price of citrus does not change in Gaza due to the endless economic crisis Farmers are selling their citrus for a dollar per kilo complained the 53 year old father of eight who considered cutting down his trees and building a rental house if the current intolerable situation remains the same Al Dahdouh blamed the Hamas authorities for allowing the import of citrus from Israel saying it only made things worse Xinhua
Roundup: Gaza fruit growers lose out amid competition from Israeli produce

Abdullah Abu Khousa

– Despite a bumper crop, Gaza’s fruit growers, facing competition from cheaper Israeli produce, see only a bleak outlook for their business this year.

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Abdullah Abu Khousa, a strawberry farmer from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, said that since the harvest season began in November, he has been able to export just 0.2 tonnes of his crop each week to the West Bank.

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“For years, even during the Israeli blockade, I was exporting at least six tons of strawberries every week, which sold for $2.3 a kilo,” said the 48-year-old father of five, adding that 80 percent of its production was used for export to Europe, Israel and the West Bank.

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But now the situation has completely changed, as Israeli products flooded with cheaper prices, he complained.

“As a result, farmers have to lower the prices of their fruits in the West Bank to compete with their Israeli counterparts… Now each kilogram of strawberries was selling for just US$1.2,” he said.

In Gaza, there are around 3,600 hectares of land planted with strawberries, producing at least 8,000 tons of fruit each season, according to the Hamas-run agriculture ministry.

“We are stuck in a dilemma. I can barely earn enough money to pay for operating expenses and the salaries of my workers,” Abu Khousa said.

The same problem has been encountered with citrus farmers, who are supposed to harvest some 44,000 tons of citrus on 18,4000-hectare land from November to February, according to statistics released by the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture.

Taiseer al-Dahdouh, a Gaza-based citrus farmer, complained that he has not made any profit from his 5.8-hectare land for the past five years in a row.

Year after year, he explains, costs have doubled due to rising prices for fertilizers, pesticides and the fuel used by transportation vehicles. However, the price of citrus does not change in Gaza due to the endless economic crisis.

“Farmers are selling their citrus for a dollar per kilo,” complained the 53-year-old father of eight, who considered cutting down his trees and building a rental house if the “current intolerable situation remains the same.”

Al-Dahdouh blamed the Hamas authorities for allowing the import of citrus from Israel, saying it only made things worse. ■

(Xinhua)

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