Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gaza agriculture struggles under siege - FAO warns of potential risks

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PressTV - Gaza agriculture struggles under siege:

Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:21PM
Safa Joudeh, Press TV, Gaza

"In the besieged Gaza Strip, agricultural sector is struggling to meet the growing demand of 1.5 million people living in the tight grip of Israeli closures.

Fayez Tamimi grows fruits and vegetables for local consumption, but says that as a farmer he faces many challenges due to shortages in farming equipment and more importantly, approved pesticides.

SB: There is no way to ensure that we are using the right pesticides. The types coming in through the tunnels are not suited to our needs but without them our crops will die. Instead we have to poison our crops and our land to feed ourselves and others.

46% of Gaza's arable land has either been razed or become inaccessible to farmers working near the border area. Due to the decline in local production coupled with the Israeli ban on the entry of products (what kind?) to Gaza, farmers have resorted to using banned chemical substances to maximize crop yield, disregarding the health risk to both themselves and consumers. Safer agricultural practices are not an option.

Organic farming would reduce yields and increase prices. In a society where over 60% of the population is food insecure, this is an unviable, if not impossible approach.

The production of safer alternatives, such as bacterial pesticides, requires equipment and ingredients banned from entering the Strip.
The UN food and agriculture organization (FAO) has expressed concern about the overuse of pesticide in agriculture, and warned of the potential risks.

Medical experts in Gaza have begun noticing the adverse effects of Prolonged pesticide use on both farmers and consumers. Most cases of cancer are registered in the agricultural areas in the Gaza Strip, and children are more susceptible to diseases than adults. The rise in leukemia and lymphoma have been linked to use of toxic pesticides in the Strip

The territory is still under siege; unemployment is around 40 percent and poverty endemic with more than two thirds of population relying on food aid by the UN and charity organizations. Faced with no other alternative the population of Gaza is going to succumb to consuming toxic products.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

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