Gaza Farmers in the Gaza Strip are still struggling with power cuts from a fuel-supply crisis that started several months ago.
Dozens of farms have reported poultry deaths in the thousands as heating systems and veterinary medicines fail and refrigeration is cut off.
Potato farmers say they have dumped thousands of tonnes of produce since the energy crisis began, leaving residents with electricity for only six to eight hours a day.
Farmer Ahmad Abd Al Hakim said: “The electricity crisis damaged my business very badly and might lead me to bankruptcy.
“I lost an over 570-tonne potato crop.” This cost Al Hakim 798,000 shekels (Dh754,700) and left him unable to pay workers’ wages.
With the crisis now in its fourth month, even in the water-rich northern town of Beit Lahiya, farmers are watching in despair as their fields dry up.
“We can’t turn our water pumps on to extract water from boreholes, and we are left powerless seeing our crops dying in front of our eyes until we get a steady supply of fuel or electricity,” said Mohammad Abu Hanoud, a farmer who works a dunum (1,000 square metres) of land.
With six family members depending on his income, Abu Hanoud said no aid could help — he simply needs fuel.
“We can do nothing without water,” he said. “All what we can do is hoping that this proplem ends quickly to get back to normal life.”
Meanwhile, high demand and low supply has caused a produce price spike.
Latest statistics show the crisis threatens to spoil crops covering 140 thousand dunums. Up to now it has cost farmers $633,000 (Dh2.3 million). As many as 85 per cent of the water wells in the Gaza Strip aren’t working.
Hassan Abu Eita, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Gaza, warned of further heavy losses.
He said that if the crisis dragged on still further, shortages of certain crops would begin and prices would continue to rise.
High costs are a big barrier to using generators, Abu Eita added, saying the ministry was looking at ways of providing irrigation where possible.
Since Egypt sought an alternative route for fuel supplies to the underground tunnel network in mid-February, Gaza has faced up to 18-hour power cuts each day.
Officials in Gaza and Abbas’ Palestinian National Authority say they have reached a deal with Egypt to bring fuel via the Rafah crossing to resolve the crisis.