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Cablegate: Gaza Harvest Yields Little Export Revenue

VZCZCXRO7531
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #0349 0571600
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261600Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0701
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 000349

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NEA/IPA FOR
GOLDBERGER/SHAMPAINE/BELGRADE; PRM FOR PRM/ANE; NSC FOR
ABRAMS/PASCUAL; TREASURY FOR SZUBIN/LOEFFLER/NUGENT/HIRSON;
PLEASE PASS TO USAID FOR KUNDER/MCCLOUD/BORODIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID ECON KPAL KWBG PHUM
SUBJECT: GAZA HARVEST YIELDS LITTLE EXPORT REVENUE

REF: 2007 JERUSALEM 2567

1. (SBU) Summary: Gaza strawberry and carnation export
revenues were low this season in comparison to recent years,
due to restricted access through crossing points and shipping
procedures that reportedly resulted in damaged products and
reduced values in European markets. Export earnings for
strawberries were USD 224,000 this season, in comparison to
USD 4.2 million last season. Export earnings for carnations
have been limited to USD 677,000, in comparison to a total of
USD 4.1 million last season. End summary.

Strawberry Exports Limited By Crossing Closures
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) Strawberries are considered the largest and most
profitable export crop in Gaza, yet according to Gaza-based
contacts and published Palestinian reports, 2007-2008 harvest
exports totaled just 42 truckloads valued at USD 224,000.
Due to restrictions at crossing points, strawberries were
only exported from November 28 - December 18, 2007. In
recent years, strawberries had been shipped as late as
February. In comparison to this season's revenues of USD
224,000, the 2006-2007 harvest earned Gaza farmers USD 4.2
million in export earnings, and 2005-2006 strawberry exports
earned farmers USD 3.8 million, according to USG contractors
in the agriculture sector.

Crossing Procedures Reduce Product Value
----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) During prior years, Gaza strawberries were shipped
to Israel through Karni/al-Mintar commercial crossing and on
sale in European markets within 24 hours. This quick
timeline was not possible through Kerem Shalom, the only
crossing that has been open for limited exports from Gaza
since June 2007. At Kerem Shalom, strawberries were removed
from cold storage and exposed to the elements for periods of
up to eight hours, according to USG contractors in Gaza,
resulting in premature spoilage and low prices in European
markets. The crossing's inspection procedures reportedly
caused damage to several shipments. Contractors also noted
that the ban on imports of certain fertilizers and specific
greenhouse equipment into Gaza may have limited the quality
of strawberries this season.

Carnation Exports Limited
--------------------------

4. (SBU) Carnation flowers are Gaza's second largest
agriculture export product and yielded USD 677,000 in export
earnings during the 2007-2008 harvest. In comparison,
2006-2007 carnation revenue was roughly USD 2 million by
mid-February 2007 and totaled USD 4.1 million for the entire
season, per USG contractors. This season, carnation exports
ran only from November 20 to January 15. Since mid-January,
Kerem Shalom has been closed for exports.

5. (SBU) There were no exports from Gaza of bell peppers,
cherry tomatoes, or sweet tomatoes this season (reftel).
WALLES

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