The agricultural sector in the oPt is reported to operate at a quarter of its full potential and it suffers from chronic underinvestment. Agriculture remains one of the main pillars of the Palestinian economy by contributing to food security, employment and export revenues, although its share in the GDP has declined from 13% in 2000 to 4% in 2016.
The Palestinian economy faces a wide number of constraints, restrictions and bottlenecks: Israeli Occupation including recurrent episodes of armed conflict, natural hazards and calamities generate an environment of high risk and uncertainty. The closure of the Gaza Strip and the fragmentation of the West Bank into small enclaves restrict the movement of goods and people, access to natural resources, leading to higher production- and transaction cost. Agricultural infrastructure is obsolete and the sector’s potential to expand has been undermined horizontally (by accessing additional land and water) and vertically (by intensifying production through full access to technologies, inputs, assets and markets).
Within its commitment to a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on a negotiated two-state solution, Switzerland aims at contributing to the establishment of an independent, viable, contiguous and democratic Palestinian state. Under its engagement in the Domain Agro-Economic Development, Switzerland supports the Palestinian National Agriculture Sector strategy “Resilience and Sustainable Development” by co-financing with Denmark, the Netherlands, the EU and Spain the Multi-donor Agribusiness programme “Reform and Development of Markets, Value Chains and Producers’ Organizations” (MAP), launched in 2017. This intervention is implemented with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). It fosters:
- A private sector-led development with competitiveness and profitability, by addressing investment support modalities, by sharing the risk but also by updating the technology, improving the marketing of certain products at different levels and increasing production among others;
- Government institutions as leaders in policy-making, undertaking reforms, and in delivery of services indispensable for agribusiness development such as promoting wholesale markets reform and upgrading.
- Civil society, including specifically NGOs and other related organizations, as technical experts with strong networks and the capacity to nurture social change such as integrating youth and women in agribusiness by improving their capacities.
This intervention works in synergy with other projects supported by Switzerland in the Agriculture sector such as the Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) programme which aims to improve plant health, animal health and food safety in the oPt including by learning how to use of pesticides and contributing to reduce related production costs.
- Switzerland played a pioneering role in facilitating partnership among donors and in building trust with the Ministry of Agriculture.
- The programme is innovative in various aspects:
- Through investment in updating farming technologies that sustainably increase productivity and use resources efficiently and in a competitive way.
- Through investment in processing (transformation, filling, packaging, labelling etc.) and
- Women-led agribusinesses to pilot products with potential for high value added and niche markets (wild cucumber, stone fruits, etc.).
- Women and youth are essential partners of this programme: 30% of supported agribusinesses will be women-led