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Flower farming in Gaza withers under blockade

Dec. 16, 2015 8:34 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 18, 2016 4:22 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Farmers in Gaza will no longer grow and export flowers in the Strip due to difficulties caused by Israel's crippling blockade, the lead flower producer in Gaza told Ma'an.

Zakariya Hijazi said flower farmers in Gaza have witnesses drastic losses since the start of Israel's blockade of the Strip in 2007.

In addition to the blockade, the farmers have taken a blow to their exports during the past few years, as the cost of locally grown flowers in Europe have drastically decreased and European buyers are no longer interested in imports from the Strip.

Before the blockade took effect, Hijazi said flower farms accounted for up to 400 dunams (100 acres) of farmland. That number gradually decreased to 55 dunams (14 acres) and now flower farms only account for around 6 dunams (1.5 acres) of farmland.

Most former flower farmers have switched to growing vegetables instead, Hijazi explained, and those still left in the flower bussiness are expected to make the switch in the near future.

The Israeli military blockade on Gaza, supported by neighboring Egypt, began when Hamas took power in 2007, and keeps Gaza's borders largely closed, limiting imports, exports, and the freedom of movement of its residents.
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