Netherlands Welcomes First Truckloads of Strawberries from Gaza

12:00 Nov 29 2011 Gaza

RAMALLAH, November 29, 2011 (WAFA) – The Dutch Representative to the Palestinian Authority, Birgitta Tazelaar, Tuesday, welcomed the shipment of the first two truckloads carrying 2.6 tons of strawberries from Gaza which successfully crossed the Kerem Shalom crossing, according to a press release issued by the Netherlands Representative Office.

The strawberries, which meet the highest international quality standards, are destined to be shipped from Israeli ports to various European countries.

“I am very pleased to see that this season’s first shipment of strawberries has left Gaza”, said Tazelaar.

“The farmers, together with the staff of the Agricultural Development Association (PARC), have worked very hard to make this season a big success. It is therefore very encouraging to see that the Israeli authorities have decided to allow the export of strawberries, carnations and bell peppers also for the upcoming season to the EuropeanMarket,” he added.

Currently, preparations are underway to get the approval to export cherry tomatoes as well.

She added that “after several years of exporting these crops to Europe, now is the time for the Gaza strawberries to also reach the markets of Hebron, Nablus and Ramallah. The Dutch government therefore encourages all Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders to do their utmost to make the transit of strawberries from Gaza to the West Bank a reality this season”.

The transfer of strawberries from Gaza to the West Bank fits within a wider context of broadening the opportunities for Gazan businesses to develop and export their products, which is a priority for both the Palestinian Authority as well as the international community. The establishment of linkages between the Gaza and West Bank economies is at the very heart of these efforts.

The Dutch government has supported the Gazan flower, strawberry and vegetables farmers since 2006.
The financial support has been complemented by continuous diplomatic efforts, which helped to safeguard the cash crops sector, which represents an important pillar for the Gaza Strip’s economic future.

For the current season, a programme to plant 182 dunums for carnations, seven dunums for new flower varieties, 350 dunums of strawberries, 27 dunums of sweet peppers and 25 dunums of cherry tomatoes is supported with a $2.1 million.

This is expected to yield a harvest for export of about 17,000,000 stems of flowers -- mainly carnations -- 600 tons of strawberries, 370 tons of bell peppers, and 160 tons of cherry tomatoes. The harvest entails a total volume of approximately 600 truckloads.

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