The European Union (EU) announced an €11.45 million financial support for the Palestinian agricultural sector, according to a press statement.
The EU is partnering with four organizations in the field of agriculture - Agricultural Development Association (PARC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Oxfam Italy and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) - to continue its work in the fields of olive production and livestock.
The four projects, which started in 2013, are fully in line with the "Agriculture Sector Strategy: A Shared Vision" developed by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Agriculture with the support of the donor community.
They will take place in the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip with particular focus on some of the most vulnerable communities, said the release.
In partnership with UAWC, the EU will work with small-scale farmers producing olive and olive-oil in Tulkarm, Salfit and Qalqiliya to develop an efficient management for their businesses.
Building on successful work from previous years, the focus is on producing high quality olive oil at reduced cost and increasing access to local and foreign markets.
The project will enhance the participation of women farmers by developing their know-how in niche areas of production (e.g.: production of olive soap and olive cosmetics).
In addition, in partnership with PARC, the EU will develop pilot farms for producing high quality olives in larger quantities in accordance with international standards. More than 10,000 Palestinian farmers will also benefit from comprehensive guidelines to improve grove productivity and olive oil quality.
"Palestinian agriculture, and olive oil production in particular, is one the most significant components of the Palestinian economy," said the EU representative, John Gatt-Rutter. "Olive oil production is not just a source of income for Palestinian families but has traditionally become the means towards social development. Families in villages across the West Bank and Gaza were able to raise and educate their children from this income," he added.
Gatt-Rutter said that this program also supports the most vulnerable herders' communities, especially Bedouins in the West Bank, who have limited access to natural resources such as water and land.
Households that base their livelihoods on livestock production are among the most food insecure in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said the press statement.
In an effort to go beyond emergency interventions and achieve a long-term, sustainable improvement of herders' livelihoods, FAO – with the support of the EU – will work with the Ministry of Agriculture to improve the delivery of services to herders associations' and effectively support a market-oriented development.
Bedouin communities active in so-called "pastoral" farming will be specifically targeted, through the EU's work with Oxfam Italy, by ensuring that these marginalized communities are better represented in the decision-making process, explained the EU statement.