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Cash Crops Season Ends on Sour Note, Gaza.

PNN Gaza's crops season ended last week with dramatically reduced income for farmers as a result of the fuel crisis and ensuing water shortages. The ongoing fuel crisis negatively impacted the otherwise relatively good season for export farmers, with carnation growers worst hit at the end of the season with 9 million flowers exported -- 2 million less than last year. Strawberry exports allowed out of Gaza by the government of Israel were slightly better than last year's at 447 tons, while sweet peppers and cherry tomatoes registered dramatic increases from 6 and 7 tons respectively last year to 44 and 75 tons this year. Oxfam partner Palestinian Agriculture Relief Committee (PARC), which manages Gaza's cash crop exports to the Netherlands, said the unusually cold weather throughout the season also impacted carnations and vegetables production, delaying it to the end of the season when the electricity crisis was at its height. Carnation farmers speaking to Oxfam at the end of the season said the fuel crisis forced them to leave their flowers in refrigerators that became in effect morgues of wilting flowers, as there was no electricity to keep them fresh for export. The lowered quality of the wilted flowers led to lost income, as PARC observed more than 2.5 million stems sold at a lower market price. Despite the relative increase in exports allowed out by the government of Israel this year, there is little comparison to Gaza's economy before the blockade, which is now entering its fifth year. PARC's marketing officer Mohammed Zwayyed on the cash crops project said Gaza exported an average of 50 million carnations every year before 2007, and up to 1,500 tons of strawberries. Vegetable exports were also much higher before the blockade, although averages varied according to seasonal fluctuations.

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Publication:Palestine News Network (West Bank, Palestine)
Date:May 22, 2012
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