Hydroponic farm in Gaza has but to restore damages from Israeli strikes

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — About a 12 months and a half in the past, Abdallah Abu Halimeh established a hydroponic farm near the city of Beit Lahia, within the northern Gaza Strip. 

The farm stretches over an space of two,000 sq. meters (21,500 sq. ft, or half an acre) and contains 41 manufacturing items. Abu Halimeh, 34, who holds a level in geographical data programs, mentioned that earlier than it was destroyed, the operation was a “tourist attraction” as a result of folks wished to see his revolutionary operation.

But the broken irrigation system, containers, pumps and lights on the farm have but to be repaired greater than two months after the Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip.

Abu Halimeh, who estimated losses at $120,000 (about half the funding got here from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization), mentioned he believes the assault on his challenge on the final full day of the Israeli-Hamas conflict was “deliberate.” He instructed Al-Monitor, “The shells that hit every greenhouse, the control system, the solar energy system and the cooling room at the farm indicate that the occupation deliberately targeted the farm.”

At a time when agriculture is crucial financial exercise within the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza estimated the losses to the agricultural sector from the latest hostilities at $204 million, together with harm to agricultural services, feed mills, wells, principal and subsidiary transportation strains, farm ponds, energy crops, fish farms, fodder, agricultural gear, pesticide warehouses and bee farms.

Abu Halimeh has labored in agriculture since he was 12. He grew up in a household primarily working on this sector and has been listening to about farmers’ issues since he was a bit boy. He mentioned he “opened the farm in a bid to overcome the problems facing farmers in Gaza. The land was exhausted from farming. At the same time I wanted to have a job and I now work at the farm with eight other people.”

He mentioned the low season manufacturing of crops and the upper yield per unit space makes the farm distinctive. Abu Halimeh mentioned his farm produces 5 occasions better yields greater than standard farms and depends on the rational use of water and fertilizers.

The number of crops — together with beans, lettuce, scallions, broccoli, spinach, strawberries and chard —  grown per unit space is larger than could be discover in a standard greenhouse. This is as a result of hydroponics relies on vertical as a substitute of horizontal farming, which permits a greater exploitation of a property’s sq. footage.

But after the farm was focused, despair took maintain of Abu Halimeh, who’s now pondering of leaving the nation. He complained that the Ministry of Agriculture restricted its function to break management and didn’t compensate farmers the identical the house owners of broken city services have been.

Wael Thabet, director of the planning and coverage division within the Ministry of Agriculture, instructed Al-Monitor that step one to revive the agricultural sector is to train harm management. Thabet mentioned that is primarily based on three ideas — restoration, resilience and improvement. “We are marketing projects to donors to support the recovery of affected farmers and help them carry on with their production, then to promote their resilience through the rehabilitation of agricultural facilities and lands, such as greenhouses and solar energy.”

Al-Monitor shared with Thabet Abu Halimeh’s grievance concerning the lack of any compensation to farmers, not like the house owners of demolished city services.

Thabet mentioned that from 2008 to 2021, the agricultural sector in Gaza has suffered heavy losses because of the repeated Israeli assaults, which triggered protracted crises. Agricultural damages throughout these years are estimated at $1.three billion. He mentioned, “The affected farmers were supported with just 30%, which explains why they constantly complain about not being fully compensated, particularly since the challenges facing the agricultural sector are huge.”

He mentioned Gaza want to see worldwide establishments implement tasks aimed at boosting the farmers’ capabilities and reviving the agricultural sector.

Agricultural skilled Yazan Kallab mentioned a number of issues face the agricultural sector in Gaza, most notably the water disaster because of the extreme use of water and restricted water sources. Added to that’s the larger salinity of irrigation water — as groundwater is the only supply of irrigation water — city sprawl, Israeli assaults and gradual soil air pollution, he added.

Kallab instructed Al-Monitor that every one these issues led to hydroponics as a manner to achieve sustainable improvement and meals safety, provided that it’s primarily based on irrigation water rationalization, water recycling and higher exploitation of a property’s space.

Other benefits of hydroponics embrace that there’s little to no want for pesticides and soil, which implies crops do not undergo from ailments brought on by soil-borne pathogens, Kallab added.

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