The Palestinian Farmers’ Union (PFU) represents and promotes the rights of farmers across the West Bank, supports branch-level development projects and encourages responsible investment and social responsibility.

The Water and Environment Program was launched in 2007 by the PFU to promote the equitable access to water and to strengthen farmers’ associations to better manage water distribution and agricultural water demand. Currently, water demand greatly exceeds water supply in Palestine and the high price of water severely limits the 20% of the Palestinian labour force who are employed in agriculture. Subsequently, farmers’ livelihoods are threatened, as is food security for the Palestinian people.

From 2007 to 2009, approximately 80 farmers in Jericho City (Jordan Valley) benefited from new irrigation equipment to irrigate more than 50 ha of agricultural land. The project also provided farmers with the appropriate training for such systems. An experimental pilot project to control fertilizer application was also produced.

To better manage irrigation networks, the PFU assists farmers in their efforts to organize themselves and create water user associations (WUAs), in which farmers are responsible for fully overseeing the operation of the agricultural water delivery facility. Building the capacities of both WUAs and farmers is the backbone of success for this transfer of knowledge.

According to Farming First, a global coalition for sustainable agricultural development, the water optimization project led to significant results, including a 30% increase on water savings, a 25% increase on inputs savings and a 15% yield increase. The reduction of inputs means an increase of 15 – 25% in farmers’ income. The impact of this project is that farmers, who are at the bottom of the food security chain, can better manage water resources, as well as collaborate and negotiate with other stakeholders, re-introducing farmers back in the decision-making process.

Objectives and beneficiaries

- Promoting equitable access to water

- Strengthening farmers’ associations to better manage water distribution and agricultural water demand

- Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative approaches to optimize their use of water and fight water shortages

Strong points of the practice

- The PFU has formed close working relationships with agricultural cooperatives

- The PFU has successfully lobbied for the Value Added Tax (VAT) recovery program for farmers, enabling a greater re-investment into sustainable agricultural practices

- The PFU has developed collective marketing and purchase programs

- The PFU has developed a olive oil program

Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation

This program aims to build the capacity of 150 farmers who are members of organic cooperatives and predominantly based in Jenin, Tulkarem, Ramallah and Jericho. This will be achieved through the implementation of a capacity building system and alternative sewage use for irrigation. This will be supported by the establishment of a farmers' production record in order to control and organize the sale of agricultural production and the organization of a joint action of production, distribution, sale and commercialization of goods.