Gazan Farmers Suffer from Crop Failure Due to Heatwaves

Heatwaves that have been increasingly coming due to climate change have hit Gaza's agricultural sector.

Gazan Farmers.
Illustration. Gazan farmers suffer from crop failure caused by increasing drought. (AP/Hatem Moussa)

ACTNews, GAZA – Currently, Gazan farmers suffer following heatwaves and a decrease in rainfall. Losses also become very large due to crop failure.

Ahmed Abu Saeed, a Gaza resident, tried everything to keep his six dunams (1.5 acres) of land planted with peach, plum, and almond trees sufficiently irrigated this year - to no avail.

“Five years ago, this plum tree used to give around 300 kilograms of fruit in one season.  this year, all my land bore less than 50 kilograms of fruit because of the increase in temperatures, lack of rain, and the 11-day Israeli war,” said Saeed.

Abu Saeed is one of many farmers in the besieged Gaza Strip to have witnessed how agriculture in the Palestinian enclave has suffered in recent years due to the combined effects of climate change and the impact of the Israeli occupation. Meagre harvests have made life more precarious for agricultural workers already struggling in the impoverished territory - and there are fears that the situation will only get worse.

“Rain and cold are critically important for my crops, which flower in spring. In March this year, hot monsoons came and harmed most of the flowers,” Abu Saeed explained. “Once I saw that I knew that I would lose this season,” Said explained.

Salameh al-Qarnawi, 47, is facing the same dilemma as Abu Saeed. He rents 25 dunams (six acres) of land planted with olive trees and bore heavy losses this year because of climate change.

“Ten years ago, the total production of olives in my land was excellent; even the last five years were good,” he told MEE, but this year is the worst in my life. My land produced approximately 75 to 75 percent less than the previous year. I lost 8,000 shekels ($2,573) this season. The production barely covers the cost of fertilizers and rent for the land,” Qanawi explained.

Furthermore, the effects of climate change on water resources in Gaza are stark. Last year Gaza saw no more than 30 rainy days, compared to 42 rainy days in 2018, according to Karam Al-Aour, an environmental specialist at the Water Authority in Gaza.

Although  the number of rainy days has decreased over the last few years, extreme weather also has increased - which means the amount of rain dropping in one-day increases. This is a negative phenomenon because such high quantities of rain go to the sea and do not fill the aquifer, meaning the level of the aquifer then drops as it is unable to absorb large amounts of rainwater in a short time span,” Karam explained.[]