Gaza’s power crisis cripples farmers

Palestinian farmers pick tomatoes to be exported into Israel, on a farm in Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip March 11, 2015. Israel imported its first fruit and vegetables from the Gaza Strip in almost eight years on Thursday, in a partial easing of an economic blockade maintained since the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the Palestinian territory. Twenty-seven tonnes of tomatoes and five tonnes of eggplants were trucked across the border under an Israeli plan to bring in around 1,200 tonnes of produce a month. The Palestinians welcomed the move, though the scale fell short of the some 3,300 tonnes they said they had previously exported to Israel monthly. Pictures taken March 11, 2015. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA - Tags: AGRICULTURE FOOD POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR4T1OZ

The electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip intensified after Israel approved June 13 the Palestinian Authority’s request to gradually reduce the power supply to the enclave.

As of June 19, the daily power supply dropped to less than four hours a day of electricity. The power crisis has taken its toll on all aspects of economic life in the Gaza Strip, including the agricultural sector, as farmers rely on electricity-powered wells for the irrigation of their crops. On June 21, Egypt supplied the Gaza Strip’s sole power plant with 1 million liters (264,000 gallons) of cheap diesel fuel, but power supply hours have yet to increase.

Extended power outages are now threatening plant life and food security in the Gaza Strip, and some farmers are buying generators to keep their crops alive. They bear the high cost of fuel and are forced to increase the price of their products.

Amjad al-Shawa, the director of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), told Al-Monitor, “This crisis also threatens to increase the ranks of unemployed farmers and agricultural workers who will soon be unable to meet the increasing costs of their agricultural activity. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the total losses and damages caused by the electricity crisis are estimated at nearly $55 million.”
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