Palestinian Olive Farmers Struggle

Oxfam report cites IDF restrictions and settler violence.

Published: October 15th 2010
in News » Israel

Palestinian farmers have been struggling to harvest their crops under IDF restrictions and settler violence, according to a report being released by Oxfam in Jerusalem on Friday.


Oxfam is an international organization dedicated to creating self-sustaining programs in developing communities worldwide.


According to the Jerusalem Post, the Oxfam report, which was purposely timed to match the official start of the olive harvest on Friday, rebuked the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and the international community for failing to help one of the most ancient forms of West Bank agriculture.


“With limited investment [by the PA and international donors], and simple changes in farming methods, Palestinian olive farmers could double their incomes and produce a consistent supply of high-quality olive oil able to compete at home and abroad,” Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs stated on Thursday.


“Such investments can have little effect unless Israel, which has occupied the West Bank since 1967, refrains from actions that restrict Palestinian farmers from access to their land and means of livelihoods, and to foreign markets,” he added.


According to the report, 45 per cent of Palestinian farm land in the West Bank and Gaza is utilized for farming 10 million olive trees, which can potentially yield up to 34,000 metric tons of oil in a good year and 5,000 tons in a bad one.


The report noted that olives and olive oil are two of the main agricultural exports from the Palestinian territories.


The olive sector contributes up to $100 million in yearly income for some of the poorest Palestinian communities.


According to the UN, in the first half of 2010, hooligans from the settlements had damaged thousands of olive trees. Oxfam added that as of yet, no action had been taken to bring the vandals to court.


Further, it was reported that settlers, and at times even soldiers, had harassed Palestinian olive farmers.


In addition, IDF roadblocks and checkpoints make it difficult for Palestinian farmers to bring their crops to local and international markets, Oxfam stated.


“Excessive time delays, increased transport, labor and equipment costs, security checks, lack of access to proper storage facilities and damage which occurs during the handling and unloading of the produce, reduce the competitiveness of Palestinian agriculture produce and introduce high levels of unpredictability in terms of quality and delivery times. All this prevents Palestinian olive and olive oil traders from penetrating global markets,” Oxfam reported.

Related articles: (oxfam, olive, farmers, west bank, gaza, settlement, gdp)

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