With only a small percentage of cultivated land being irrigated, rain-fed agriculture has been the backbone of Palestinian agricultural activities.
It has been described as a resilient agroecological system that has helped farmers adapt to restrictive socio-economic conditions, coupled with dire political conditions. However, rain-fed agriculture also remains the dominant type of agriculture due to historical heavy restrictions on water use, through Israeli occupation’s denial of Palestinians’ right to water from the rich groundwater aquifers.
hegemonic control over water resources in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967.
Israel today extracts 85% of the annual yield of groundwater aquifers in the West Bank, leaving a mere 15% of the water to Palestinians for water for both domestic and agricultural purposes, far below the rising demand of a growing population.
The average Israeli consumption of water is at least 4 times more than the Palestinian water consumption, while some settlements in the West Bank consume, on a per capita basis, 21 times more water than nearby Palestinian villages (the case of Ro’i settlement and Al Hadidiya village)
Moreover, 63% of cultivable land is located in Area C, where it is fully under the control and administration of the Israeli army and where settlers are left in control over large parts of the land and water.
The Jordan Valley, with more than 85% of its land designated as Area C, is the epitome of systematic dispossession and destruction of livelihood on a daily basis.
Once famed for being the “food-basket of Palestine”, its agricultural communities are now devastated and many Palestinians living there depend on work inside the illegal settlements or on selling their produce through Israeli agricultural companies and individuals, who export dates, vegetables and fruits.
The farmers of the Jordan Valley are stuck between a rock and a hard place, where they are unable to obtain the water needed to irrigate their crops and make their produce competitive in this unequal market, but where the alternative is to abandon their lands and work in the illegal settlements to secure their livelihood, which in many cases happens to be their own land confiscated by settler colonial expansion.
Without proper water allocation, farmers are relying on the traditional rain-fed agriculture,
Livelihoods that depend on natural resources have been systematically weakened and destroyed. This destruction has been used as a tool by the occupation to turn the working Palestinian population into a dependent group.
Since the 1995 Oslo II Accords, Israel has set a ’security perimeter’, known infamously as the Access Restricted Area (ARA), which extends along the borders and is entrenched at least 300 meters from the green line. After the second intifada, the Israeli military gradually extended the ARA to reach up to 1500 meters into the land of the Gaza Strip.
Gaza are stripping Palestinians of 35% of the total agricultural area
Gaza Strip, which also happens to be the most fertile agricultural lands
n the 1950s and 60s, Gaza used to be famous for its citrus production and export, which employed around 30-40% of Gazan work force
he agricultural sector in Palestine does indeed receive funds from international aid agencies, which aim to develop the standards of production in order to access global markets and get Palestine into the global economy.
The western markets therefore benefit from high value cash crops, while in Palestine, we are abandoning local, environmentally-friendly farming practices and local varieties to meet international demand.
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