By: Saad Dagher
Dr. Ahmed Al-Nubani is an example of self-production of food
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
One of the most amazing creations of our Palestinian people, with the start of the uprising in 1987 (the first intifada), was the policy of home-grown economics, which enabled the people to withstand the circumstances, and enabled the besieged villages to continue their struggle. This made the leaders of the first intifada realize the critical role played by home grown economy and agriculture in strengthening the uprising and steadfastness and its continuation. It was a conscious popular response to that policy. The mainstay of the home economy was the self-production of food including vegetables, fruit, eggs and meat. One of the most wonderful, successful experiences was the Beit Sahour experience.
Food is a strategic weapon in the hands of the occupation
Nowadays, as we live in a stage of strategic transformation after the battle of the "Sword of Jerusalem", which created a new reality by all standards, we should turn around to the strategic stockpile of food, and the sources of this food. Can food be a weapon in the hands of the enemy, in decisive moments of conflict? How can we be self-dependent and produce our own food? How can we be free from the constraints of monopolistic corporations that work for the benefit of the colonial powers?
The battle of the “Sword of Jerusalem”, as well as the Corona crisis, demonstrated the validity of the call for self-reliance in food production, through agriculture, animal husbandry, eggs and meat production. There is not an inch of land that has sunlight that cannot be cultivated and used for food production, so that we may be free and self-dependent in the food we eat. A production focused on reliance on authentic local seeds, and other local production resources and food that supports the liberation process from the Israeli occupation. The production of free food to complete the self-reliance panel is achieved through agriculture that depends on local sources, which requires a deeper understanding of the dimensions of agro-ecology which we have been calling for more than a decade and a half, as the cultivation of freedom and liberation. There is no freedom without self-production of food.
To sum this all up, whoever controls your livelihood, controls you and simply takes away your freedom. Only when your food is free can you achieve true independence in its “liberal” form. Independence from the consequences of the forces of domination and colonialism with their control over the transnational corporations, controlling seeds, fertilizers, agrochemical poisons and smart technology.
The main and primary job of any Palestinian government should the issue of agriculture. It is not enough to brag about agriculture, farmers and peasants that they are the first line of defense for our land, our soil and our existence. Rather, this must be proven on the ground, through annual budgets approved by governments, through extension and training works on the ground, and the implementation of sustainable projects. The great irony is that we brag about agriculture as the first line of defense for our land, whether the speaker is from the Palestinian leadership or the smallest speaker in politics, while its share in the government budget is minimal. While the security services have the biggest share in the budgets, knowing that these agencies do not defend an inch of land or Palestinian individual, and do not prevent a single Zionist colonist from controlling our lands!!
Two unique farming styles
To talk about the agricultural pattern we want, it must be admitted that there are two distinct patterns. The first is agriculture that perpetuates dependence on the outside in its inputs, and proves dependence on the colonizer, through production inputs whether directly or indirectly, such as genetically modified seeds, pesticides, toxic chemical fertilizers, and technology that has come to be called “smart” (while in fact it is a technology that erases the innate intelligence of the farmer that he inherited through generations), which is an agriculture that suffers from multiple seasonal crises, starting with climatic conditions, weather conditions and its fluctuations, and chronically suffering from crises in marketing, keeping us in a vicious circle, without finding real solutions to those crises.
Moreover, this agricultural pattern provides us with products that are free from nutritional value on one hand, and feeds us products that make our bodies prone to many diseases, instead of being a mainstay of health, on the other hand.
As for the second agricultural pattern, it is self-reliant and depends on local production inputs and on the basis of an environmental nature that contributes to the production of real food, which has a high nutritional value, which means laying the foundations for building a healthy society. This paradox between the two types of agriculture and food production should lead those involved in the agricultural field, starting with the farmer, the mainstay of the agricultural process through the research centers and universities, and reaching to the umbrella that sponsors the agricultural sector represented by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The same work strategies should be led by the agricultural development institutions as a work doctrine. We cannot explain the lack of insistence on adopting the self-reliant agriculture approach by the institutions calling for spreading the principles of sustainability in agriculture and in the development work in all their activities, projects and programs. Rather, we often find a resounding deviation from those values and principles towards unsustainable practices and appeasement to serve some financing agendas, or a deviation led by people who are easy to stray from the path of sustainable agricultural development. This leads to reliance on the outside, and increases the obstacles in the farmers lives in a way that serves hidden agendas, whether intentionally or unintentional. However, the final result is the same which is the consolidation of subordination in so many hidden forms.
Translated by: Rasha Abu Dayyeh