Economic growth through optimized agricultural value chains
Aysha stands alongside her son, Khaled Barahma, during a working day in farming, Tubas, May 2021.
Water is the foundation of everything: without safe, reliable, and accessible water resources, communities, ecosystems, and economies cannot successfully adapt to change.
Meet Aysha Bsharat, a 44-year-old single mother raising two young boys in the Tammoun area, the south of Tubas in the West Bank, Palestine. Aysha has dedicated her life to farming to support her family. However, since she owned just one donum of land, she had been able to only grow one crop – tomatoes.
Her biggest challenge was the unstable and costly water supply, which costed 4 shekels per cubic meter (equivalent to 1 USD). With so much money spent on water, Aysha had little funds left to invest in her crops.
Although Tubas is one of the main agricultural regions in the West Bank, access to water resources is not easy, affecting sustainable agricultural production.
Considering this, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) took action and provided farmers in the Tammoun region with water reservoirs with a capacity of 1 500 m3. These reservoirs became the primary water source for the irrigation system in the area, rapidly reducing the cost of water from 4 shekels to 2.7 shekels per cubic meter (equivalent to 0.7 USD).
FAO’s work comes as part of its project to support economic growth through optimized agricultural value chains in the West Bank, funded by the Government of Canada.
With Aysha now having access to affordable water, she is able to save money and buy more land to expand her crop cultivation. She now grows various crops such as parsley, cucumber, grapes and peas.
Beyond increasing her household income, this intervention enabled Aysha to strengthen her resilience to various climate, health and economic shocks. For instance, during the global COVID-19 crisis in 2020, Aysha could not work in the fields, but she still sustained her family through the savings generated from her land production.
With increased production and income, Aysha was even able to send her son Khaled to college.
“I am studying at the university and majoring in manufacturing and production engineering now. I want to focus on farming and food processing so that I can help my mother and other farmers like her,” said Khaled Barahma, Aysha’s son.
Aysha Bsharat collects grape leaves that are packed and sold in bundles and used in different dishes, Tubas, May 2021. ©FAO/Hend Younis
This intervention has helped 220 farming families expand their land area under cultivation, reaching a total of more than 500 donums of open fields and greenhouses.
In addition, FAO’s work has even enhanced the safety of women and contributed to eliminating violence against them. Due to water scarcity, women had to fetch water at night to ensure their water needs, making them vulnerable to physical attacks and harassment. However, with the reservoir in place, women can fetch water in the morning and ensure their safety.
Moreover, women have been involved more in the Water User Association and the community’s decision-making system, ensuring equal participation. The community of Tammoun has become more socially amenable, and conflicts stemming from water resource usage are now a thing of the past.