During the semi-annual meeting of Gaza Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Platform (GUPAP) meeting on Tuesday the 13th of June 2017, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of National Economy announced governmental policies and procedures that will enable the protection of some local agricultural products.
A total of 100 national and international experts and stakeholders participated in the GUPAP meeting, exchanging knowledge and experience on urban agriculture and how to enhance resilience of local food market system.
The meeting concluded with the following :
The Ministry of National Economy stressed its commitment to protect national products and enact new policies and measures, particularly for local dairy and date products. The Ministry confirmed that after conducting a diligent research to implement an economic policy that limits the importation of non-national products such Fita dairy products and Yogurts. However, such a step requires continue enhancing efficiency of local production units.
The Ministry of Agriculture has also confirmed the adoption of a number of new policies and strategies to protect the palm date products and encourage the ripe dates processing , to raise the economic value of the palm trees and enhance resilience of the Palestinian farmers and producers (women & men). Wael Thabit, Director General of Plant Protection Department, of the Ministry of Agriculture has mentioned the following new policies and strategies of the Date Palm Sector Development Committee (MoA) :
- The Date Palm Sector Development Committee which was facilitated and supported by the GUPAP will continue its planned operations to enhance resilience and sustainability of the date palm tree, women producers and processors in Gaza Strip. This Committee is coordinated by MoA and includes; FAO, ICRC, Al-Nakheel Association, PNGO Network, Al–Ahleya Association, GUPAP (Dates Value Chain Platform), MAAN Development Center, Palm Dates Cluster, and the Ministry of National Economy.
- Strategies and interventions that help to combat Red Palm Weevil should be promoted through awareness campaigns, the action and efforts of the farmers and local actors to protect this tree.
- Promote and enable strategies that raise the economic value of the date palm tree value chain both organizational and community levels.
- Activate lobbying and advocacy strategies, with both local and international organizations, to enhance the economic value of the date palm sector, and enhancing capacities of committee members in this important field.
- Facilitate and enhance voice and representation spaces of date pal farmers and producers ; both women and men .
- Enhancing quality control and monitoring approaches and application of local quality standards.
Based on the fact that the GUPAP promotes the role of the Palestinian Consumer Protection Association by improving and developing its thre years strategic plan, the GUPAP meeting has confirmed the importance of having joint coordination and cooperation among actors who work in the field of food safety including MoNE, this has been expresses also by Mr. Saud Swirki, Director of the Palestinian Consumer Protection Association, he confirmed that his association involved actively this year in consumer protection campaigns to raise the consumers’ awareness .
GUPAP stressed the importance of having more interactive and fruitfull cooperation and partnership between local and international organizations to promote more realistic, resilient and market based UA projects in Gaza Strip, and thus technical and organizational quality control and food safety capacities and enhancing agricultural extension field teams.
During said meeting GUPAP’s members have been given a participatory interactive space to share knowledge and experience (success stories) on: market based Urban Agriculture techniques and approaches, UA safe agricultural production and rights of agricultural working women, athree learningful presentations have been intriduced by MAAN, Safe Agricultural Producers Association and Women Affairs Center (WAC).
Meanwhile, at the national level, GUPAP’s Advisory Committee member Eng. Khaled Al-Hidmi, from Jerusalem, shared the City’s experience of using UA approach and techniques as a strategy to improve food security and resilience of productive home gardening.
At regional level, Hesham Al Omari, Coordinator of Amman Urban Agriculture Platform made a presentation on experience of Amman Platform and ongoing cooperation and networking between Amman/Jordan and Gaza UA Platforms based on joint regional cooperation plan developed in March 2017 . The meeting was ended up with a supportive and appreciative presentation by Eng. Razan Zuaater, President of Arab Network for Food Sovereignty, through the video conference, who confirmed the importance of building mutual cooperation with GUPAP in near future to come.