The European Union stated that it is providing assistance to five new projects to revive the development of the agricultural sector in the Palestinian territories. The amount which will be provided, according to the EU statement, is €7.44 million. The aid is intended to promote a sustainable economic, social and environmental development in the area.
Also, the statement added that this program comes in coherence with a development and reform plan presented by the Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Salaam Fayyad during the international Donor Community in Paris in December 2007.
Also, three of the five projects are dedicated to developing the olive oil sector in Palestine, as Palestinian olive oil has special flavor and a high quality which fits overseas markets, the statement added.
The program aims at future export of 700 additional tons of extra-virgin olive oil to fair-trade and foreign markets.
“The olive oil that will be exported will fall under an existing trade quota that allows Palestinians to export up to 3,000 tons of Palestinian olive oil, tax free, to European Union countries”, the statement reads.
“3,000 small-scale producers will receive training to help them improve their technical and organizational capacity. They will also be given equipment and farming tools, and a number of olive presses will be restored. Environmental concerns have been integrated into the programme: in addition to promoting organic agriculture, the programme includes a component to deal with the polluting waste generated by the olive presses”, the statement adds.
The two other projects which will be funded by the EU focus on land reclamation, as this procedure increases the quantity of arable land. The program will reclaim 2000 Dunams of land and will benefit nearly 450 farmers.
“ Land reclamation consists in removing stones, leveling the ground, building retaining walls and constructing cisterns to harvest rainwater. A greater number of farmers will benefit from the opening of agricultural roads (60 km) and the development of home gardens (150). In addition, a component to help develop local seeds will be implemented. The reclamation of new agricultural land, as well as providing an important source of revenue for poor rural families, contributes to the fight against desertification”, the statement reads.
The total value of the projects amounts to € 8.8 million (€4.8 for olive oil, €4 million for land reclamation) out of which the European Union has granted €7.44 million euros (84%).
The following organisations will implement the projects: OXFAM Great Britain, Palestinian Farmers Union, Fair Trade Development Centre (ICP – Bethlehem University), Agricultural Development Association (PARC), Centre of Organic Agriculture in Palestine (COAP), Italian Association for Cooperation for Development (ACS), Gruppo di Volontariato Civile, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, OXFAM Solidarité.
For further information on the EU's activities in the oPt: www.delwbg.ec.europa.eu
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