The Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ), in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Ministry of National Economy (MoE) held a workshop on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 in Ramallah, to announce the targeted crops within the activities of the project “Food Production – Consumption Assessment to improve sustainable agriculture and food security in the West Bank – Palestine” – funded by The International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and implemented by the Institute in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of national Economy, many of relevant actors have participated in the workshop such as government institutions, local non-governmental and international organizations.

The workshop was introduced by Mr. Nader Hrimat, ARIJ General Director Deputy. He welcomed the participants and the project partners; the MoA and MoE, and noted that this project is important to improve food security in Palestine due to the conditions and challenges facing the agriculture and food sector in the Palestinian territory. He also highlighted that the project will evaluate and improve the agricultural sector and food security of Palestine through analyzing and assessing the consumption, production, and food marketing processes to the most important agro-food products (plant crops).

Engineer Mr. Riad Al-Shahed, Director of Agricultural Statistics Department at MoA, delivered a speech on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture in which he confirmed the importance of the partnership between ARIJ and the Ministry in supporting the Palestinian agricultural sector. He also focused on the role of MoA in the development of the agricultural sector and the importance of improving food security and Palestinian marketing channels that agricultural products pass through; from the farm to the consumer. He also highlighted that the project activities come in response with the MoA’s national strategic plans.

Dr. Hazem Al Shunnar auxiliary agent of the Ministry of National Economy delivered a speech on behalf of the Ministry of National Economy in which he confirmed the need for partnerships between the local NGOS and Governmental institutions for improving the economic and agriculture sectors, also the importance of this project is to assist the decision-makers in drawing up plans and future policies that helps in improving food sector. He confirmed that there will be new outputs from this project that the Palestine is in need for through the involvement of more than one actor in the project activities and the comprehensiveness of the approach of the project. He also emphasized that the final outputs of the project is going to be consistent with the policies and aspirations of the Ministry of National Economy.
Then Mrs. Roubina Ghattas – Head of Biodiversity and Food Security Department at ARIJ – presented the objectives and the final outputs of the project, indicating that the aim of the project is assessing and analyzing the production and consumption of food from the farm to the consumer taking into consideration the assessment if marketing channels for the Palestinian agricultural products (specifically Market Value Chain) in order to put forward the best solutions for the Palestinian agricultural system through the participation of decision-makers in the results and recommendations. She also highlighted the project mechanisms adopted to collect the relevant data, selection of crops, baseline surveys, networking among stakeholders and the structure of the project. She clarified the role of each committee formulated in the project, and the set of groups that will be targeted in the project beginning from the farmer and ending with the consumer. She also explained the promotional and awareness campaigns that will be done targeting farmers, traders, consumers and decision makers at local and national levels.

Afterwards Mr. Ahmed Daboqi presented an overview for the Palestinian agricultural sector, and the primary results of the Palestinian central markets study and the related problems. He highlighted the absence of regulations and control loops in the middle cycle in marketing the agricultural crops, which heavily influenced the rise of food prices and accordingly insecurity in the Palestinian territory. The methodology used for selecting the project targeted crops, as agreed on with both partners; MoA and MoE was presented. Cultivation area, production, self-sufficiency ratio, value-added and the total value of exports were presented as basic ranking variables while selecting of the target crop. Also the project team introduced the crops and the target areas to be studied.

The workshop concluded an in-depth discussion with the audience/stakeholders about the selected crops and targeted areas. Participants’ feedback and recommendations were all taken into consideration as an important base for the project future activities. Fifteen agricultural Palestinian crops distributed as fruit trees, vegetables and field crops were agreed on as targeted crops for the project. At the end ARIJ thanked all governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations that participated in this workshop and for their clear institutional interest in this project, and its progress.