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Cablegate: Minister of Agriculture Requests More Us Assistance

VZCZCXRO0908
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #1535 2051319
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241319Z JUL 07
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8469
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 001535

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NEA/IPA FOR
WILLIAMS/SHAMPAINE/BELRADE; PRM FOR PDAS GREENE AND
PRM/ANE; NSC FOR ABRAMS/WATERS; TREASURY FOR
SZUBIN/LOEFFLER/NUGENT/HIRSON; BRUSSELS FOR LERNER; PLEASE
PASS TO USAID FOR KUNDER/MCCLOUD/BORODIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR ECON KWBG KPAL PHUM PGOV
SUBJECT: MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE REQUESTS MORE US ASSISTANCE

1. (SBU) Summary: PA Minister of Agriculture Mahmoud
al-Habbash told USAID Mission Director on July 23 that his
ministry's efforts are focused on (1) land reclamation; (2)
constructing roads for small farmers; and (3) developing
water projects. Abu Hassan requested additional funds for
Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) programs, stressing that MOA
strength is critical to WB/G agricultural development. He
said that the MOA in Gaza continues to report to his office
in Ramallah. End summary.

Al-Habbash's Plan To
Increase Production
-------------------

2. (SBU) USAID Mission Director and EconOff met on July 23
with PA Minister of Agriculture Mahmoud al-Habbash to discuss
USAID agricultural programs and the MOA's plan for the
agricultural sector. Al-Habbash said he is working to
develop a clear strategy for Palestinian agricultural
development that aims to increase production. He said he
plans to (1) begin programs of land reclamation (reviving
soil to its earlier productive capacity); (2) construct roads
to facilitate access to markets for small farmers; and (3)
develop water projects throughout the West Bank and in Gaza,
as current water resources are insufficient for desired
growth in the agriculture sector.

Lack Of Technology;
Access and Movement
-------------------

3. (SBU) Al-Habbash described two major obstacles to growth
faced by Palestinian farmers: the lack of technology and
limitations of access and movement. He said that small-scale
Palestinian farmers need more advanced farming techniques in
water management and soil reclamation to develop their plots
of land. Al-Habbash said that the most obvious impediment to
success in the agricultural sector is the Israeli closure
regime, which seriously impedes access to markets.

4. (SBU) The Minister thanked USAID for its on-going
programs in the private sector, such as the Palestinian
Agribusiness Partnership Activity (PAPA) and its work to
improve WB/G food production and quality, but requested
additional support to the agriculture sector through the MOA.
The Minister asked that the US increase support to MOA in
order to reduce poverty and subsequently increase security -
key ingredients to "taking back Gaza from Hamas."

MOA in Gaza
-----------

5. (SBU) Al-Habbash noted that MOA Gaza offices continue to
report to his office in Ramallah. The MOA Director General
of Planning and Policy said that MOA Gaza employees go to
work and maintain certain programs to assist small farmers in
Gaza.


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