Resources on Food and Farming in Palestine
“The Besieged Palestinian Agricultural Sector” is a comprehensive assessment of agriculture in the occupied Palestinian territories. It was produced by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2015. The information about farming in the West Bank and Gaza covers the agriculture sector’s importance and role and explains how the Israeli occupation “distorts” and impedes its development. This is an important background document to understand agriculture in Palestine.
The article, “The Rise of Palestinian Food,” by Ligaya Mishan, discusses Palestinian cuisine, focusing on the culture’s indigenous foods and recipes. It explores the connection to farming and the “vanishing ingredients”—fruit and vegetable seeds rarely available at present. The article introduces many newly published Palestinian cookbooks and features artistic photographs
This is the Facebook page of “El Beir, Arts and Seeds,” Vivien Sansour’s Palestine Heirloom Seed Library. Description: “A project to salvage and propagate our agricultural heritage through story, seed, and art by Vivien Sansour.”
“Palestinian Farmers: Food Producers and Land Defenders” is a blog post by Palestinian journalist Fareed Taamallah. He examines olive tree farming as central to Palestinian agricultural life. He also talks about his organization, Sharaka, which tries to connect farmers with consumers as a step toward food sovereignty.
“Seeds of resistance: The woman fighting occupation with agriculture” is about Vivien Sansour, the founder of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library. She answers questions about Palestine’s agricultural heritage, the importance of preserving heirloom seeds, the impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian agriculture, and the pivotal role of farmers in Palestinian resistance. She says, “Farmers who can produce their own food and make their own seeds represent a threat to any hegemonic power that wants to control a population.”
“War on nature: How Zionist colonialism has destroyed the environment in Palestine” catalogues the many sinister ways that Israel has attempted to control, stifle, or destroy the environment—and farming culture—in Palestine. These include uprooting trees and burning orchards, employing discriminatory water allocation practices, land leveling and excavation for building Israeli settlements, dumping Jewish settlers’ waste on Palestinian land, confiscating land to build networks of roads for settlers only, inflicting military offensives (and their poisonous aftermath) on Gaza, spraying herbicides at the border with Gaza, and constructing the apartheid wall.”
“Working towards food sovereignty in Palestine” discusses the many farms in Palestine that practice agroecology, aiming to minimize the effects of farming on the environment. They are part of a community supported agriculture (CSA) movement that works to grow more food and rely less on Israeli produce, which typically has a high pesticide content. To these farmers, the act of farming is a form of non-violent resistance that also helps them reconnect with their Palestinian identity.
This is the website of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), a registered agricultural NGO under the aegis of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior. According to the website, “It is considered one of the largest agricultural development institutions in Palestine as it was established in 1986 by a group of agronomists. When established, UAWC depended on volunteers completely and formed agricultural committees in the West Bank and Gaza to set the priorities of farmers and help the Union in implementing its programs and community activities.”
Food sovereignty in Palestine: Join the local, national and international movement to regain control of our food and farm system
“Food sovereignty in Palestine: Join the local, national and international movement to regain control of our food and farm system” is a document by the National Family Farm Coalition and Grassroots International. It profiles leaders in the food sovereignty movement worldwide, including Do’a Zaied, an agronomist, farmer, and food sovereignty activist in Hebron/Al-Khalil, Palestine. She manages the seed bank of the Union of Agricultural Work Committee to preserve traditional seed varieties and increase food security and biodiversity.
For those seeking a more scientific approach to agriculture in Palestine, this article, “Envisioning perennial agroecosystems in Palestine,” focuses on agrobiodiversity and conservation in the area. It mentions areas of research and concern such as soil health, irrigation, genebanks, new crop development, climate change, the decline of small scale agriculture, and much more. Plant diversity in Palestine “can assist humans in protecting and building soils, and in developing climate-resilient agroecosystems that can sustainably feed communities for the long term.”