Despite Hamas: Israel Boosts Gaza Exports
Despite recent terrorist attacks on Israeli farming communities, and the ongoing captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel has continued a program to help Gaza farmers improve their crops this year. The program aims to help farmers keep their foothold in the European market, and is part of a series of steps aimed at improving Gaza's economy.
IDF officials were involved in the most recent attempt to improve Gaza produce, a meeting between an expert on strawberry farming and local exporters.
The expert went through the entire production process, with a focus on the proper use of fertilizer and pesticides. Care for the strawberries after the harvest was also stressed, because, as one official explained, “this is a particularly sensitive product with a fragile shelf life.”
The expert's talk followed a year of less-than-successful Gaza exports. Israel assisted farmers in delivering their produce to the European market, but some of the exports did not meet importers' approval.
“We want to help the Palestinian farmers to grow their crops correctly, and use pesticides correctly, so that next year the produce will be of a higher quality, and quantity,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kobi Gratzwolf, head of the IDF coordination department's Gaza economy branch. The goal, he said, “is to create a situation in which the exports to Europe will grow, and will create more profit and Palestinian economic growth in Gaza.”
Gratzwolf declared the talk a success, saying, “It was clear that the farmers who participated in the conference enjoyed it a great deal and learned a lot.”