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Voices in Gaza

Nick Rose, Executive Director

Here we are sharing first-hand perspectives of members of the Urban Women Agripreneurs Forum who have lived through the horrific, genocidal violence in Gaza over the past seven months, yet still manage to grow and produce food for their families and communities. 

29 February 2024

I am Zainab Abid, the coordinator for the pioneer forum of modern agriculture, and the founder of the gluten free products project in Gaza. 

I would like to talk about the impact of the war on the agricultural field in Gaza, especially on the women's pioneer projects (WPP) which number approximately 3000, significantly impacted by the current war. Only 10% of those projects are operational, 30% are totally inoperational and 60% are either completely or partially affected due to the war.
The main challenges that the WPP are facing at the moment is the destruction of the roads and transportation between Gaza province, Rafah and Khan Younis. This makes the availability of the raw materials significantly difficult and because all the companies, factories and warehouses are located in Gaza while people moved to Rafah, we find it seriously difficult to make the raw materials available. So that led to a significant increase in the raw materials prices, also the power outage nearly 5 months stopped us from operating the machines and the equivalents to meet the demands of our customers. On top of that the fuel prices have become very high, therefore the small WPP were unable to produce the same amount of products to fulfil the demands of our customers. Also the purchasing power is decreasing. We expected the remaining 10% operational project will also collapse due to the above conditions. 

3rd March 2024

Sa’ada Abdulfatah Almajdalawi, Techno plant project to produce sugar alternative (Stevsweet) from the stevia plant

The project is severely damaged by the war, and our greenhouses are partially damaged, our smart greenhouses which include hydroponics beds where I plant the stevia seedings has been damaged by the bombardment on the area. Also, most of the sale points (pharmacies) of our stevsweet product has been damaged including our stock there. The raw materials and the containers that we use are not available. I am still working because the sugar prices have increased so the people started to looking for alternatives such as stevsweet but my production is very low due to the increase in the raw materials cost and the shortage in the amount of the containers as well the operational cost increase such as gas, electricity outage and pure water cost. I need raw materials, gas, water, and empty containers including the labels and printing are not available in reasonable price and quality, therefore I sell the products with different packaging than usual.

Fawziya Mohamad Hasan Mubarak, from Saro project which was established 10 years ago

Our enterprise has been registered (licensed), our production used to cover the local market such as dates, dray Maftool, Doka etc.. our work was good and covered the local market. During the war our operation became very limited due to the raw materials availability and high cost compared to period before the war. That is why our operation was disrupted while the market is short of products, however the equipment and the packaging materials are available. But the raw materials high cost disrupted the operation. If the prices become more reasonable the raw materials will be available since Ramadan season now and the demand is extremely high, we hope that we can see a reduction in the cost of the raw materials.

Samar Othman from Beit Hanoun

We have been threatened and expelled to Rafah after few days of the war, my house and project has been completely bombarded and at the moment we can not reach to the project. The project was the main and only income for my family. I urge all the donors or supporters to consider rebuilding our project, since we require new equipment for the bees and to grow plant to feed the bees. The loss was severe, and we hope to back to operation soon therefor we need you support to keep our family fed and women’s projects alive.

Zainab Abed, Coordinator of the the Modern Agriculture Women Pioneers' Forum

According to the statistics there are 3000 women agricultural projects in Gaza , those projects are suffering from severe circumstances due to the war in Gaza, we can classify those projects as 20% are operational with minimum capacity now, and 30% are available but inoperational because the shortage of the resources, energy, short of capital and cash. 50% of the projects are completely or partially damaged or impacted either because of the bombardment or people -displacement.
Me as an owner of a pioneer project I am operating my project with limited capacity producing gluten free products, I am facing difficulty in finding the raw materials due to the current situation and cut of the transportation between main cities and the significant increase in the raw materials cost and the alternative energy cost so we can operate in minimum capacity. So we are talking about a certain people who have been deprived from food for 4 months due to the blockade considering the humanitarian aid didn’t include gluten free products. It takes us 4 months to collect raw materials from different parts of Gaza to operate with minimum capacity and send products to Rafah where most people are gathered now. Our projects are very important for certain class of people who depend on it and it’s important that our small business stay operational to keep our economy running and to provide food especially now to people.