Farmers in the besieged Gaza Strip have harvested 12,000 tons of dates from their palm trees; however, they are struggling to find buyers for their produce.
High unemployment and rising poverty rates mean that locals in the Strip are unable to buy the fruit, while the Israeli siege has limited the farmersâ€™ abilities to export their crop.
Farmer Mohammed Barka, 28, told Anadolu AgencyÂ that his yield is abundant and good this year, but theÂ deteriorating economic condition in Gaza has caused people to buy less.
â€śDespite the low prices of the product, the demand is still low,â€ť he explained.
Baraka, who has been working in this profession for ten years, called on the Ministry of Agriculture to work to export the produce out of Gaza.
In aÂ reportÂ published yesterday the World Bank warned that the enclave is â€ścollapsingâ€ť, due to theÂ 11-year Israeli-led blockade,Â and described the economy as being in â€śfree fallâ€ť, with aid flows no longer enough to stimulate growth.
â€śThe result is an alarming situation with every second person living in poverty and the unemployment rate for its overwhelmingly young population at over 70 per cent,â€ť it added.
â€śThe production of dates amounted this year to 12,000 tonnes,â€ť said Tahsin Al-Sakka, director general of marketing and coordination at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza.
â€śThis quantity is enough for the Stripâ€™s needs and exports also, but poor purchasing [power of the local population] leaves themÂ stacked up in the market.â€ť
A week ago, farmers exported 12 tonnes of dates to the West Bank, Al-Sakka said.
â€śWe hope that we will be able to export significant quantities of dates outside the Strip.â€ť
The total amount of dates exported last year reached 400 tonnes, he added.
~ Days of Palestine
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.