Cop27: date farmers in Gaza struggle with bad weather for harvest

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Climate change has helped date production in the blocked Gaza Strip nearly halve this year as unusual rains devastated spring pollination, exacerbated by a hot summer, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers said. Reuters reports.

Adham Al-Basyouni, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza, said date production this year was expected to fall to 10,000 tons from 16,000 tons in the past two years, following the unusually cold and wet spring.

“We had wintery weather. We had changes in climate that affected the vitality of the pollen grains and flowers and severely damaged pollination,” he said.

While it can be difficult to determine how climate change affects individual weather events, scientists are increasingly able to say how much more likely such events are caused by rising average global temperatures.

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A recent report predicted that temperatures in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East will rise nearly twice as fast as the global average, with overall warming to 5 degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century.

The report, prepared by The Cyprus Institute, will be presented at COP27, the United Nations climate summit of world leaders currently being held in Egypt. At the summit, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the issue for Palestinians is exacerbated by the conflict with Israel, which restricts access to natural resources.

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Al-Basyouni said authorities are working on advanced new systems to help farmers deal with the effects of climate change, keep production going and meet the needs of Gaza’s rapidly growing population.

READ: Farmers in Gaza Have Dates, But Can’t Sell Them Anywhere

Under the blockade of Israel and Egypt, the enclave has limited access to external markets for its agricultural products, and unusually warm summer weather after the wet spring added further misery to farmers.

“The entire date season was damaged,” said 33-year-old farmer, Uday Manna, in Deir El-Balah, a city in the central Gaza Strip whose name means “Monastery of the Dates,” after the famous oasis of palm groves. .

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“Every year we send dates to the West Bank; this year Deir El-Balah doesn’t have enough dates for Deir El-Balah itself.”

Bad weather has also affected the quality of the dates, which form the basis of a variety of traditional local sweets and pastries.

“I’m waiting for the season to earn my living,” said Zahwa Abu Qassem, 73, who has spent decades making date paste for use in confectionery and pancakes. “This year the dates are small and not fun,” she said.