Planting olive trees to restore their livelihoods and protect their land
Olive trees bear more than an economic significance in the lives of Palestinians. They are symbolic of Palestinian identity and their attachment to the land. The uprooting of centuries-old olive trees has caused significant losses to Palestinian farmers and their families. It has economic, environmental, social, and serious cultural impacts.
For the last forty years, over a million olive trees, and hundreds of thousands of fruit trees, have been uprooted and destroyed by Israel’s military forces and by Israeli settlers; for the expansion of Israeli settlements and their bypass roads, the building of Israel’s separation wall, and also as a result of Israeli settlers’ criminality in the occupied West Bank (where olive groves have been burned or poisoned, completely destroying them).
Olives are a main source of income for around 80,000 Palestinian families. According to UN figures, around 48% of the agricultural land in the West Bank and Gaza is planted with olive trees. Olive trees account for 70% of fruit production in Palestine and contribute around 14% to the Palestinian economy. Of the olive harvest, 93% is used for olive oil production, while the rest is used for olive oil soap, table olives and pickles. Much is for local consumption, with a small amount being exported, primarily to Jordan. With the growing interest in organic food and fair trade, Palestinian olives are now also reaching European and North American markets.
The average olive tree produces between 20-90kg of olives per season depending upon the age of the tree; the older the tree, the more olives. On average, each 5kg of olives produces 1 litre of olive oil, selling for approximately US $8.00.
This ongoing appeal will support the livelihoods of marginalized Olive farmers in the West Bank, helping them to restore their olive groves by replanting new seedlings, replacing those destroyed. Rehabilitating the land will also help to protect the farmers’ land from confiscation. Welfare Association has just completed a project supporting 180 farmers across six villages in the West Bank, by planting over 6,000 olive trees.
Click the link above to read the UN OCHA’s report detailing the impact of Palestinians in the West Bank being restricted in accessing their olive trees.
22 February 2024
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