Gaza: University graduates implement the "Return to the Land" initiative for organic farming

In an attempt to search for an economic project that provides them with a source of income in light of the worsening unemployment crisis and their inability to find jobs suitable for their university specialization, a group of university graduates in Gaza implemented the "Return to Earth" initiative that is concerned with With organic farming as a safe way, consumers avoid the health and environmental risks caused by chemical fertilizers in the long run, and to encourage Palestinian farmers to move to organic farming, as they succeeded in cultivating an area of ​​1,000 square meters of land west of Gaza City with many crops, including: “Celery, radish and lettuce Cucumber, tomato, cabbage and cauliflower, "and they marketed it on social media.

"The initiative came through us as a youth group of the Spark Foundation for Innovation and Innovation, which cares about the environment, where our "Back to Earth" initiative was one of the winning initiatives in the Dalia-funded Start youth program, where we were able to secure funding of US$2,000, and although it was a small amount, it was a starting point.

The coordinator of the initiative, Reham Hayek (24 years old), said: The idea of ​​the initiative came through us as a youth group affiliated with the Spark Foundation for Innovation and Creativity that cares about the environment, as our "Return to Earth" initiative was one of the winning initiatives in the "Start" program. Al-Shababi, funded by the Dalia Foundation, where we were able to obtain financing of $ 2000, and although it was a small amount, it was a strong starting point for the implementation of our initiative after we rented a plot of land of an area of ​​1,000 square meters with $ 500 for a year to go through this experience.

In the details of this initiative, Hayek, who holds a BA in Accounting, added: “I accompanied my colleague, Agricultural Engineer Odeh Odeh, and my colleague Aseel Abu Haloub,“ Civil Engineering Student ”, to start implementing this initiative through which we seek to produce agricultural crops without any chemicals that are an alternative to the existing traditional agriculture. In the market, which mainly depends on chemicals, based on the importance of restoring the earth to its nature free of toxins that negatively affect human health, the environment and the soil.

Hayek explained that the main goal of this initiative is to encourage farmers in Gaza to adopt organic agriculture as an alternative to traditional agriculture, given that the chemicals used in traditional agriculture have caused an increase in cancer, as the Gaza Strip records from 120 to 130 cases of cancer every month. The matter is not just a project of work for young people who refused to surrender to unemployment, but rather to provide a great service to the community that deserves to eat its food in a safe way away from all these dangers to its health.

Marketing challenges.

Hayek pointed out that organic farming costs less than traditional agriculture, as it does not use the method of sterilizing the soil and chemicals, pointing out that the difference between the two crops is that organic fertilizers are used more in traditional agriculture, due to pests and insects, explaining that organic farming restores the soil Its fertility has been lost due to the confusion in the use of pesticides, all forms of sterilization and chemical pest control.

Al-Hayek said, "The prices of organic farming products are slightly higher than the prices of traditional agriculture, but this difference, unfortunately, does not suit many citizens due to the difficult economic conditions," explaining that she and her colleagues were disappointed when they went to offer their product to a number of points of sale, so they were surprised that the merchants They are underestimating their prices, and this made the challenges facing them more difficult, the most prominent of which was how to continue and expand their project, and spread the idea among farmers and landowners, at a time when they are still unable to market their products.

Al-Hayek explained that they went to their own pages on social media to promote their products, and a point of sale was announced through a bazaar located next to their agricultural land, and another point in the "Spark" center that embraces them, and it has become a place through which to receive their customers.

Hayek revealed that the lack of financial funding for the initiative was one of the most important difficulties they faced in that initiative, noting that the amount was insufficient to cover all the requirements, as they covered several expenses on their personal account, adding that there are many farmers who caused them a state of frustration by saying These organic crops will not succeed, and they will need chemicals to resist insects and pests, expressing her hope that they do not need any chemicals and that they will continue their work in this initiative in a completely organic way.

Demands and appeals ..

Al-Hayek appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture and the relevant institutions to highlight the importance of organic agriculture, and to educate citizens about it and encourage them to embrace it, especially as it is a safe way and consumers avoid the health and environmental risks caused by chemical fertilizers, in addition to providing material and moral support to farmers who suffer heavy losses as a result of harassment. Those who are exposed to it by the Israeli occupation, and the depressions that their crops are exposed to without any compensation offered to them.

Reham and her colleagues aspire to develop their initiative, expand the cultivated area and add other crops after bringing in financing that enables them to continue their work, especially since the consumer culture in the Gaza Strip does not encourage continuity, in light of bad economic conditions that hardly enables the citizen to buy ordinary crops, concluding with a dangerous point, which is that “The majority of farmers do not eat the crops they grow. Rather, they grow organic crops for themselves and their families,” according to what she and her colleagues witnessed during their work and visits to a number of them.


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