Palestinian strawberry growers in the Gaza Strip face major obstacles in exporting their produce as a result of the near ten-year blockade on the territory, despite Israel’s authorising the first shipment of strawberries from the territory at the start of this month.
Tahsin Al-Saqqa, an official from the Palestinian ministry of agriculture, told Alresalah news site that Israel had allowed the first strawberry shipment to be exported from Gaza to Europe, but that restrictions imposed by Israel, including obstacles to trade and the high costs of the occupation, were leading to huge losses.
Statistics issued by the ministry of agriculture in Gaza reveal that farmers this year planted just 60ha of strawberry plants, compared with the usual 300ha. This year’s crop is therefore expected to reach 1,500 tonnes, significantly down on the typical 7,000 tonnes produced before export restrictions were introduced.
Although further exports have yet to follow, Al-Saqqa noted that the initial shipment was the first to pass through the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Gaza and Israel, suggesting that exports of Gazan produce could take this route in the future.