Tuesday October 26, 2021

Palestinian farmers start olive harvest season against multiple challenges

Published : 14 Oct 2021, 00:24

  DF News Desk

A Palestinian man picks olives during the harvest season at an olive orchard in central Gaza, on Oct, 11, 2021. Photo: Xinhua by Rizek Abdeljawad.

Used to be a festive season, the olive harvest in the Palestinian territories this year looks set to be overshadowed by multiple challenges, such as falling production caused by cold weather, increased olive oil imports from abroad and sporadic attacks from Israeli settlers, reported Xinhua.

Farmers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have started the olive harvest season, which will last about 40 days.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza, about 4,000 hectares of land are planted with olive trees in the Palestinian coastal enclave.

The ministry's spokesman Adham El-Bassiouni told Xinhua that 2021 has witnessed a decline of 60 percent in the olive production because of the harsh climatic condition.

Ammar Hiji, whose father owns 25 hectares of land in the east of the Gaza Strip, also blamed part of the harvest failure on cold weather that harmed the olive trees.

The 29-year-old father of four, however, noted that the most prominent challenge facing the farmers in Gaza is that landowners are importing increased olive oil from abroad.

For Amer Fayez and many other farmers in the Gaza Strip, olive is a main source of livelihood.

Fayez told Xinhua that he used to spend 12 hours a day picking olives, and the olive harvest season starting October offers him an opportunity to earn 10 U.S. dollars per day.

The situation was no better in the cities and villages of the West Bank as Palestinian farmers there suffer almost daily aggression by Israeli settlers, which even has prompted the launch of a popular Palestinian campaign called Fazaa that aims at protecting farmers across 25 sites of the West Bank during their harvest season.

Supported by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, the Committee against the Wall and Settlement in the Palestinian Authority, the campaign has attracted dozens of Palestinians, volunteers and owners of agricultural land.

Muhammad Khabisa, a 68-year-old farmer, has welcomed the campaign since he set his foot on his land for the first time in May, as the area has been under the Israeli army control.

"My feeling is indescribable, especially when I saw young activists help me protect my land," Khabisa said as he climbed the stairs to pick olives.

More than half a million Israeli settlers, along with 3.1 million Palestinians, live in the West Bank which was occupied by Israel in 1967. Confrontations between the two sides often turn into violent clashes.