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Feijoa hope for Gazan farmers

After years of experimentation, production of guava-like fruit feijoa looks set to take off in the Gaza Strip

Feijoa hope for Gazan farmers

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After eight years of experimentation, Gazan farmer Massoud al-Zane has succeeded in growing feijoa for the first time in Palestine, according to a report from Al-Monitor.

Feijoa is the fruit of the acca sellowiana, a small tree commonly found in Brazil and northern Argentina that produces guava-shaped green fruit rich iodine and antioxidants.

According to Zane, he obtained feijoa seeds from the Ministry of Agriculture back in 2009, when farmers were tasked with experimenting with the seeds in various locations in the Gaza Strip.

Zane said that the warm weather in Gaza suited the tree’s growth, since it is able to withstand high temperatures, cold spells and high water salinity. The tree is also rarely infected with pests, allowing growers to make a higher profit by eschewing pesticides.

“In 2009, we brought hundreds of feijoa seeds from Argentina to test them in different farms and nurseries owned by local farmers,” said Nizar al-Wahidi, director of water at the Ministry of Agriculture. “`Only today can we say that we succeeded in producing the first fruits of this shrub.”

According to Wahidi, the effort is part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s plan to diversify crops in the Gaza Strip and promote those that are compatible with Gaza’s water salinity and freshwater scarcity.

“Feijoa depends on saline water, unlike many fruits that drain the available freshwater in Gaza,” he said. “Therefore, growing feijoa could be a successful project that contributes to reviving the national economy once hundreds of dunams are cultivated to satisfy local market and international demands.”

“The Ministry of Agriculture is currently planning to increase feijoa production and launch a media campaign to tell citizens about it in order to encourage local consumption,” said Wahidi.

In November, Gaza's Ministry of Agriculture revealed that pineapples, broccoli and beetroot had also been produced in Gaza for the first time.

As Zane looks to expand production of feijoa, his greatest concern remains a future military assault on Gaza by Israel. The war in 2014 resulted in agricultural losses of US$550m, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Palestinian NGO Network.

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