Food is essential for human survival and access to food is considered as a basic human right. Food access is an important development issue, which has gained attention at a global level and is addressed by the first Millennium Developments’ Goals (MDG) eradicate extreme poverty and hunger .’ The MDG expressed that food provision as an essential component for development and further defined its goal to ‘halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger .’
The contribution of agriculture to GDP is approximately US$930 million and around 15% of formal workforce and 39% of informal workforce. Agriculture production is essential for food security in West Bank in two ways: first, as a source of production for local consumption, second, as a source of production for exportation and income generation. Most agricultural activities in oPt are family based, 58% of total production goes for local consumption, 20% for direct sale and 22% as a surplus .
Palestine currently imports most of its basic commodities from abroad with the global crises in food prices affecting the prices of commodities in oPt. In October 2011, the consumer price index in West Bank reached 145.6 points. Fruits and vegetables have experienced price increases in the West Bank since 2005; with a percent of change of average food prices increase up to 32.46% and 27.36% respectively
Higher food prices have contributed to a high proportion of expenditure that goes for food. The rising proportion of expenditure devoted to food is an effect of combined factors, such as: (i) higher food prices, (ii) complicated market channels and unavailability of diversified crops during all seasons, (iii) lower purchasing capacity and lower incomes, which are raising the overall burden of food expenditure in the household economy. Using household expenditure data to measure food security indicates that many Palestinians are both ‘food insecure’ and ‘poor.
For any state, sound agricultural management and strategies are important especially if it is to provide adequate food supplies. In order to establish such strategies, the State needs to conduct analysis for its agricultural systems and food production market using such knowledge to build short and long term strategies for crops and animal cultivation, import and export and food distribution .
Crop diversification is an important strategy for the sustainability of the agriculture sector in West Bank. However, marketing is the main challenge that facing the farmers and producers who are trying to diversify their products or experience new products. It is vital to develop a productive marketing system, and empowering those who work in the agriculture sector through an understanding of the production –marketing systems that affect them, so as they can become more productive agricultural workers, planners, and profitable business owners .
This project aims at suggesting solutions and actions that can be implemented on the ground to improve agro-production and marketing system. In a second phase of the project, an agro marketing decision support system will be proposed to provide feedback, and act as a planning mechanism and response tool to the needs of the Palestinian market in West Bank.
The project will develop a reliable and up to date analysis of locally produced agro-commodities, marketing and consumption systems to enhance the sustainability of the local agricultural system and assist in improving self-sufficiency of agro-commodities production. This will lead to the longer term access of Palestinian people to more food with better prices in West Bank.