Palestine Agriculture Sector
Agricultural products are one of the most important sectors for the Palestine Economy. Its contribution to the national GDP exceeds 6% and employs around 12% of the total Palestinian workforce. The value of plant production in 2007/2008 was calculated at $832 million (£661 Million) comprising of 61% of the total agricultural production. For example, vegetables are responsible for $463 million (£367 Million) 55% of plant production and fruit trees were responsible for $264 million (£210 Million), 32 % of plant production.
Palestine is a small player in the global fresh produce market with a global share of less than 1%; however, it’s export sectors have exhibited impressive growth in recent years despite starting from a low base. Palestinian exports in the fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs (FFVH) totalled US$ 56 million in 2014 (£45 million). As for dates, one of the most promising subsectors exported around US$ 12 million in 2014 (£9.5 Million) . In the same year Palestinian exports of FFVH have grown at a rate of over 23%, whereas the growth of dates exports have exceeded 40%.
The uniqueness of Palestine climate is one of its benefits in the agriculture sector. This gives Palestinian fresh produce a comparative advantage through its high quality. In addition our FFVH are grown according to international standards, long and off season availability and the variety of the products that Palestine can offer are:
• Cherry tomatoes
• Fresh Herbs (chives, mint, arugula, rosemary, parsley, coriander, chervil, dill, basil, tarragon, sage, thyme, oregano, marjoram and sorrel).
Why Palestine Products?
Palestine Fresh, Fruits, Vegetable, Dates and Herbs products are a potential opportunity for your market. These products are of a good standard to compete with other exporting markets. Although a large number of these products are currently sold to Israel, who also requires high quality of farming standards and treatments. Below is some general market information that might assist you in considering Palestine produce as potential competitive opportunity for these particular products;
1. The State of Palestine has approximately 1,207,061 dunums of agricultural land, of which 1,029,280 dunums are cultivated and devoted to growing vegetables, herbs and fresh fruits.
2. The vast majority of cultivated land (91%) is found in the West Bank. The regions with the largest cultivation areas are Jenin (20% of cultivated land), Hebron (17%) and Nablus (13%), while Gaza (1.1%) and North Gaza (1.3%) had the smallest aggregate holdings.
3. Smallholdings dominate the Palestinian agricultural sector and individual farmers with an average size of a holding are 11 dunums. Ownership structures vary as well, and although the vast majority of holdings are the property of the holder (86%), approximately 4.1% are rented or sharecropped. It should be noted that although women are well represented in the sector they comprise only 7% of holders.
4. Enterprises use a variety of technical and chemical aids to production. Moreover, 65% of plant and mixed holdings use organic fertilisers, 35% use chemical fertilisers, 50% use pesticides, 25% use improved agricultural assets, and only 19% use integrated pest management. These figures can be improved in accordance with market requirements and restrictions as well.
5. These holders obtain varying degrees of productivity, are supported by various cooperative systems, and tend to use methods based on a number of practices. The products of small farmers are mainly destined for household consumption, the local market, or at times the Israeli markets, and their goods tend to be of relatively varied quality. A few larger enterprises, meanwhile, have invested in the necessary infrastructure to support export activity and international market penetration has thus far been promising but moving in the right direction.
6. Processing and packaging is controlled by a few large operators and large investments has been directed into capacity build its infrastructure and image. A further distinction should be made with regards to the herbs subsector, in which production varies greatly depending on the final destination of the goods. Those destined for export are produced by specialized large and medium-sized farms, while those for the local market are produced mainly by smallholders who have had difficulty entering export markets due to low quality and production capacities.
Fruits & Vegetables
The aggregate plant sector relies upon over 112 plant varieties, including 38 types of vegetables and 39 types of fruit. The vegetable subsector is concentrated in Jenin and Tulkarm, which together are responsible for over 32% of vegetable production. The most important vegetable crops are cucumbers (30% of vegetable production), tomatoes (30%), eggplant (9%), squash (7%), paprika (2%), and green bean (1%).
The fruit subsector yielded nearly 1.9 million tons of fruit on a production area of over 1.1 million dunums. The two most important regions for fruit production are Hebron (25% of domestic production) and Nablus (14%) and the main fruits grown are olives (34% of fruit production), grapes (22%), figs (3%), oranges (2.5%), bananas (2%), palms (1.6%), and dried almonds (1.5%) and strawberries (0.5%).
The fresh fruits and vegetables value chain in the State of Palestine revolves around a number of steps that include the provision of preliminary services including sourcing of inputs, cultivation, protection, harvesting, post-harvest processing, packaging, sales, distribution, and export delivery. Although these stages may differ according to the specific product or target market, the basic production pattern is fairly stable. (Details on pre production, production, port harvesting and distribution can be provided separately for each product).
Seventeen varieties of herbs are cultivated in the State of Palestine, mostly focused on fresh exports. The main products in the herb subsector are arugula, basil, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sorrel, tarragon, and thyme.
An important feature of the herbs subsector is the length of its harvest calendar. The agronomic and climate conditions in Palestine, as well as the diversity of herb types that can be grown, result in the potential to harvest significant quantities of herbs throughout the year. This is especially important from the perspective of developing a comparative advantage in international markets.
The production base comprises 30 fresh herbs producers. It is estimated that eight of these companies solely cater to the export market. The subsector is also characterized by a number of qualified and well-equipped packinghouses, including two GLOBALGAP certified packinghouses.
Palestine can provide Medjool dates grown especially for United Kingdom market and will be pesticide-free to satisfy its requirement. In particular, the Jumbo Medjool and the Super Jumbo Medjool varieties (the largest and the second largest of the three categories) are popular among consumers in the United Kingdom.
What can we do in the near future?
There is high potential to export medium sized capsicums, which are available in three varieties (colours) in the State of Palestine. The demand for these varieties in UK is high and offers potential for better improvement on Palestinian produce.
In the medium to long term, Palestinian exporters are expected to develop the supply and quality consistency required for supplying potatoes (Maris Peer variety), grape molasses, grape juice, dry grapes, grape sheets, grape jams, grape paste and fresh strawberries.
Although The United Kingdom market is one of the most challenging markets, but we believe that our exporters can provide with our assistance GLOBALGAP, British Retail Consortium (BRC), and HACCP certifications for all their products.
If you require any further details please contact Majdi Haj Khalil, Commercial Trade Representative to Palestine in UK on Majdi.firstname.lastname@example.org Palestine Mission, 5 Galena Road, Hammersmith W6 0LT, Tel (+44) 20-8563 0008 Fax (+44) 20 8563 0058