Installation of hydroponic and tank systems in four cooperative centres in Palestinehas been completed. The innovative character of the solutions used makes it possible to cultivate vegetables without having access to agricultural land and with limited water resources. Beneficiaries of the project cultivate fully organic crops on the balconies, terraces and in the courtyards. Special attention is paid to optimal watering methods.
Members of the cooperatives currently undergo theoretical and practical training in this non-standard cultivation. In two centres these will be disabled people, assisted by physiotherapists, who will take care of the plants.
The centres that have received Polish aid are located in the vicinity of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron. They include the following cooperatives: Beit Duqqo, the Women's Centre in Surif, the Association of Arab Women, and Al-Malath Centre for Disabled in Beit Sahour. The aid will contribute to increasing food security of the beneficiaries, of whom a significant proportion are women and socially excluded people. Once the production is expanded, it will be possible to obtain income from selling vegetables on the open market.
The centres involved in hydroponic culture will be part of a larger group of production and sales agricultural cooperatives, established in 2015 and concentrated around MAWASEM brand (“season” in Arabic). Assisted by the Polish Center for International Aid (PCPM) and agronomists from the partner Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem (ARIJ), the group works on increasing its profits, efficiency, and quality of operations.
Members of Palestine’s cooperatives have already undergone a number of courses on production, processing, hygiene and quality control, cooperative management, management documentation preparation, cost analysis, and marketing. A SWOT analysis has been conducted, and individual business plans are currently in preparation. Cooperatives will also receive the necessary production equipment.
Food produced by Poland-supported cooperatives includes sweet pumpkin jam, za’atar (a Middle Eastern herb), saffron, luffa sponge, maftoul, grape molasses, olive oil, and marinated olives. Soon the list will be completed by dried tomatoes, labneh cheese, and olive spread. Some of them are already available in Poland.
The Polish Center for International Aid’s project entitled “Using hydroponic cultivation to increase food security, income and competitiveness of the cooperative sector in Palestine” (No 33/2016/M). The value of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ grant in 2016 amounts to PLN 1,190,110.