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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

From bombing center to strawberry capital of W. Bank

There was a time when Kalkilya was the focus of bomb making and terrorism but a new program is aiming to turn this Palestinian city into the strawberry capital of the West Bank

The first crop of the ruby red fruit in this pilot program is halfway to harvest. The Palestinians hope to be able to cash in on the lucrative Christmas markets in Europe and possibly sell strawberries to a major international ice cream producer.

"I grow strawberries here, and this is where it starts," said Ahmed Zed, 31, a Palestinian carrot farmer who decided to take up the risky endeavor and grow strawberries.

...For the past few months, Israeli agriculture advisers have been training Palestinian farmers in growing these delicious, but highly sensitive fruit. Sponsored by the Flemish Foreign Ministry and facilitated by the Peres Center for Peace, Israeli experts have been supplying Palestinian farmers with irrigation equipment, nylon, pesticides and training that will help them raise the high-quality strawberries required for export.

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