After the 1967 war, Palestinians sustained drastic loss of agricultural land and access to water. Of the land occupied in 1967, approximately 1.85 million dunums have been deemed cultivated lands; 91 percent of which in the West Bank and the rest in the Gaza Strip. In terms of water, Israel exploits approximately 82 percent of all groundwater in the West Bank, of which approximately 63 percent in the areas called “C”.
Economically, agriculture employs about 12 percent of the labor force and contributes about 6 percent of the GDP, while, socially, agriculture holds great promise to provide employment, sustainable income and food security to many farming families. Further, investing in agriculture provides the basis for the protection of Palestinian lands.
Yet, the sector is underutilized due to Israeli policies of land confiscations and restrictions on access of farmers to their lands. In addition, the lack of available resources to allow Palestinians to expand cultivation, irrigate their crops, and utilize advanced technologies has hindered the development of the sector.
Thus, to address the weaknesses in the agriculture sector, and to help unleash agriculture’s great potential, FFP developed the Agriculture Access and Development Program (AADP). The program is built to address the two basic ingredients of agriculture; i.e. land and water. Its intent is to increase the amounts of cultivated land and increase the water available for irrigation to increase productivity.
In addition, the program seeks to increase Palestinian productivity of livestock and poultry, thereby increasing employment opportunities to the vulnerable, and providing better conditions for food security.
The Agriculture Access and Development Program will be implemented throughout Palestine over a period of three years.
Strategic Objectives of the Program
The strategic objective of the AADP is to increase productivity of the agriculture sector and contribute to food security.
FFP has identified three specific objectives for the AADP:
I. Increase amount of water available for agriculture use.
II. Improve access to, and increase amount of, cultivated land.
III. Increase productivity of the livestock and poultry sector.
IV. Improve access to more advanced and new technological and scientific developments.
To achieve its strategic objectives, FFP has defined several strategic interventions:
i. Increase water availability for irrigation: FFP intends to invest in three types of interventions to increase water availability for agriculture. These include the following:
I. The development and rehabilitation of infrastructure related to natural water resource, including springs and wells.
II. Install waste water treatment units and systems to enable the reuse of treated waste water in agriculture.
III. Build water collection cisterns to be used for irrigation and drinking of livestock.
ii. Improve access to, and increase area of, cultivated land: FFP will direct parts of the investments of the AADP to increase area of cultivated land and improve access to it. Interventions will include the following:
I. Build agricultural roads
II. Reclamation of lands
iii. Increase local domestic animal production: FFP intends to set up and administer a revolving fund to support existing cooperatives, or smaller farmers to come together in new cooperatives to raise livestock and poultry.
iv. Support research and technology transfer in the agriculture sector to improve quality and productivity.
Beneficiaries and Costs
The initial program investment cost estimated by FFP for the AADP is $ 26 million. Twelve million US dollars will be allocated for the reclamation of 5,000 dunums, building 100 km of agriculture roads, constructing 500 water collection cisterns, building 10 waste water treatment units, and rehabilitating 15 wells and springs.
Another twelve million US dollars will be used for the development and administration of the revolving loan fund for increasing domestic animal production reaching an estimated 200 cooperatives to serve 2,000 small farmers. The remaining two million US dollars will be used to support the funding of twelve research and technology transfer initiatives.