Origins of the Gaza Urban & Peri-Urban Agriculture Platform (GUPAP):
The ‘Facilitating urban and peri-urban agriculture in Gaza’ project is implemented with the aim to increase income for men and women engaged in small-scale urban and peri-urban agriculture in the Gaza Strip. The project’s inter-related specific objectives (outcomes) revolve around service supply markets, extension services and enabling policy and governance frameworks.
New and revised policy strategies and measures for urban agriculture aimed at supplying the local market are expected to be developed and taken up by local and national government institutions. This aspect of the project is being implemented in close coordination with the Gaza Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Platform (GUPAP) and its more than 80 member organisations – key stakeholders who represent various sectors including government, the private sector, civil society, universities and agricultural funding institutions.
The GUPAP seeks to see longer-term development and institutionalisation of the platform to actively and successfully network and share knowledge, information, experiences and cooperation (locally, regionally and internationally) on urban and peri-urban agriculture to develop an agricultural sector featuring sovereignty and resilience among diverse stakeholders (government and non-governmental organisations, private sector institutions, research institutions, agricultural funding institutions and influential players in agricultural value chains) in the Gaza Strip. All members of the platform are committed to the comprehensive development vision of it, which is recognised locally, regionally and internationally as an interactive and participatory space to facilitate strategic planning, advice, lobbying and advocacy for policies of urban and peri-urban agriculture.’ GUPAP workshop, 6 September 2015.
The GUPAP launched in 2013, fulfilling the need for a multi-stakeholder, interactive and participatory forum that brings together all key actors involved in the development of a resilient Palestinian urban agricultural sector in the Gaza Strip. The GUPAP’s vision is aligned with a broader vision of supporting a more resilient agricultural sector that seeks to contribute to Gaza being more food secure, less dependent and vulnerable, and with its population having improved access to sustainable jobs and income, improved livelihoods and a safer environment.
The GUPAP will facilitate the coordination, networking and organisation of urban agriculture actors (for improving agricultural production, joint processing and marketing, for building consumer trust and for better service provision) and of policy and institutional actors (to work on a more enabling framework for the urban agriculture sector as well as improved access to productive resources).
The GUPAP is temporarily hosted by Oxfam and the Palestinian Network of NGOs. The institutionalisation of the GUPAP still needs to be reinforced– and if relevant, it is officially registerd with the competent authorities– in a way that enables its continued contribution to strengthening the resilience of the agricultural sector in the Gaza Strip. In order to do so, GUPAP seeks to mobilise funding, capacity and potential to continue its activities effectively while taking into account the principles of transparency, participation and community ownership.
GUPAP seeks to work with all organisations working in or influencing urban agriculture development at the level of the Gaza Strip. These include:
Government Institutions are considered to play an essential role in the Palestinian agricultural sector and have major duties in the organisation, management and control of the agricultural sector, and the provision of basic services.
The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for agricultural extension and information, agricultural production, regulations, quality control and safety, which are vested in agricultural policies, strategies and laws.
Other relevant government ministries and public institutions involved, include the Palestinian Water Authority, the Environmental Quality Authority, the Ministry of National Economy, the Ministry of Local Government and Municipalities that plays a role in the development of regional plans, municipal and rural development, plans for greening cities in addition to the management of urban water resources. Other important government actors include the Ministry of Planning and Administrative Development, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the provincial office of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, PECDAR, the authority of the Palestinian territories, the Palestinian Institute for Standards and Promotion Agency for Palestinian investment
The government institutions play the following two key roles in GUPAP:
- Contributing to the formulation and adoption of urban and peri-urban agriculture policies and approaches within the overall national strategies and plans for a more sustainable and resilient agricultural development.
- Facilitating a favourable legal environment to encourage urban agriculture development, and providing the necessary support services.
- Non-Governmental Civil Institutions:
Non-Governmental Civil Institutions constitute significant stakeholders in the development of Palestinian agriculture. They include the Women’s Affairs Centre (WAC) and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Palestinian Agricultural Relief Community (PARC) and MAAN, the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), ACAD and cooperative associations representing approximately 800 farmers such as the Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU) and other relevant civil institutions/actors. They play a key role within GUAP by:
- Facilitating/hosting urban and peri-urban agriculture projects and activities.
- Facilitating mutual cooperation and networking around awareness raising and advocacy to achieve the goals and objectives of the GUPAP.
- Facilitating and supporting the development of local products derived from urban agriculture in the Gaza Strip and providing technical expertise and training in order to reduce poverty and achieve food security.
- Private Sector:
Private sector in the Palestinian agricultural sector include the Palestinian Trade centre (PalTrade) Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Food Industry. The participation of these institutions within the GUPAP are a driving force in the economic development of market-oriented urban agriculture and creating a competitive business environment for urban agricultural products, capacity building, and also contribute to the revitalisation of domestic consumption and West Bank markets.
Agricultural international institutions represented by donors and international agencies are contributing almost twice the amount of national funding to the Palestinian agricultural sector. They play an important role in supporting and (co)financing the reclamation of land and installation and rehabilitation of greenhouses and irrigation projects, as well as other urban (agriculture) development projects.
Research and Educational Institutions in the Gaza Strip, represented by local universities and colleges which contribute to research development on agriculture, food processing and quality inspection by laboratories. For example, Al-Azhar University through the College of Agriculture and the Environment, is working on enhancing student capabilities in research and extension services in the field. The college focuses its work on three main areas: 1) Production and Plant Protection 2) Animal Production 3) Food processing.
The University College of Applied Sciences implements academic and applied research in 1) Plant Production 2) Animal Production and 3) Agricultural Extension and Training in partnership with the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. The Beit Hanoun Agricultural School is also a member in the GUPAP.
The role of research institutions within the GUPAP is related to the following:
- Being an important reference for the various local and international organisations and projects for agricultural and urban studies.
- Increasing research capabilities and training on urban and peri-urban agriculture.
- Facilitating extension services and Participatory Technology Development.
- Agricultural Value Chains:
Four food value chains have been assessed by the Gaza Urban Agriculture Project (vegetables, dairy / cheese, olives, dates / palm). Two of them -date & dairy- have been institutionalised within local value chain platforms where beneficiary producers and other agricultural value chain actors collaborate together to increase and improve local production and processing, improve the competitiveness of local products for the local market, reduce dependency on external imports and energy, and promote and strengthen Gaza-based service supply.
The role of value chain platforms in the GUPAP include:
- Bringing key policy, legal issues and constraints related to value chain development to the attention of policy makers.
- Contributing to advocacy and lobbying.
- Facilitating capacity development activities and promotion of resilient value chain approaches and techniques among members and other actors.
- Providing adequate information on their value chains.
- Agricultural Micro-Finance Institutions (MFI)
The aim of the MFI is to promote projects and income generation in the agricultural sector. MFI include the Faten lending institution, Arab Centre for Agricultural Development (ACAD), Palestinian Development Fund, Cooperative Society for Saving and Lending (CSSL) and Reef Finance Company, amongst others. The role of these institutions in the GUPAP is to mainly facilitate access to financial resources in order to support the urban agriculture sector and smallholder entrepreneurs initiatives (with a specific focus on women).