DOMISTIC MARKETING INFRASTRUCTURES, FACILITIES AND SERVICES FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
Transportation Transportation of agricultural products suffers from the conditions of the roads networks that slow movement of goods inside the WBGS. In addition, transportation of fresh agricultural products is subject to imposed measures such as the use of the so- called green trucks (in use to cross the border with Jordan), the lack of refrigerated trucks and the inadequate facilities at the border with Jordan and Egypt, which heavily affect the quality of perishable agricultural products. Finally, agricultural products undergo long procedures (i.e. convoy system and security checks) when transported through Israel by Palestinian licensed trucks. In case Israeli licensed trucks transport products, security procedures are faster at the checkpoints.
Transportation of animal products is not an exception, with only 8 refrigerated trucks in the WB to transport the meat from slaughterhouses to butchers. Such transportation facilities are important since many slaughterhouses do not provide refrigerated truck services.
Palestinian traders access foreign markets through Israeli ports of entry and exit, where Palestinian products, particularly agricultural, receive a discriminatory treatment (i.e. security measures) despite of the Paris Protocol that affirms the principle of equal treatment for the Palestinian and Israeli goods. Checks and lengthy delays are very costly, particularly for perishable goods, transported through the airport.
Inadequate Services of Wholesale Markets, Cold Storage and Packing Facilities for Plant Production Wholesale markets in the WB are 12, while 2 major ones operate in GS. A brief description of the dimensions and facilities available in the markets of the WB is presented in Table 2. These municipal markets deal with fresh products (fruits and vegetables).
The inadequate service of cold storage and sorting capacities in wholesales markets have limited role in: -adjusting the agricultural supply of perishable agricultural products -extending the marketing period -reducing export as well as local price fluctuations. Table 3 describes the situation of refrigerated storing facilities in the Gaza Strip.
Table 3: Cooling Rooms for Fruits and Vegetables in the Gaza Strip
Slaughterhouses Eight slaughterhouses exist (Table 4), four of which are recently built. Five of them offer refrigerated transportation facilities from the slaughterhouses to the butchers everyday. When the slaughterhouse dose not provide service, butchers normally transport the meat in private, non refrigerated cars under unhealthy conditions.
Table 4: Distribution and Conditions of Slaughterhouses in WBGS
Agro-Processing Enterprises The availability of processing structures can absorb agricultural surpluses such as citrus, certain vegetables among which tomatoes are most representative, and fruits). In the present time, second class strawberries produced in the GS are sometimes sold to a juice factory in Israel for very low prices. This is due to the absence of a factory in the GS that can process the strawberries to higher value added products such as strawberry juice and ice cream. Moreover, local processed food can substitute imports from Israel and other countries which improves the Palestinian trade deficit.
Number of establishments in operation in food-processing (1998)
According to a study conducted by the Ministry of planning and international cooperation in 1998, Palestinian processed agricultural products suffer from the unavailability of quality controls. They are identified as having low standards compared to the requirements (i.e. ISO 9000) and lack consumer confidence. Moreover, while local agricultural inputs are available, direct imports of inputs (i.e. packing materials, additives and coloring) from other countries suffer from the general constraints affecting Palestinian trade.
MAIN CONSTRAINTS IMPOSED ON PALESTINIAN AGRICULTURAL TRADE
Constraints facing plant production 1- Inadequate direct export facilities 2- Incompetitive and weak agro-processing industry 3- Instable prices in the domestic markets 4- Long marketing channels 5- Frequent surpluses 6- Inadequate services of precooling, grading, export packaging, cold storage and trucks.
Constraints facing the livestock sector 1- Inadequate direct import facilities 2- Inadequate slaughter houses facilities 3- Incompetitive dairy industry 4- Long marketing channels 5- Frequent shortage in output and inputs 6- Inadequate services of cold storage and cold trucks
Restriction on imported inputs Animal feedstuffs and fertilizers are the two major controlled inputs imported from Israel. Importing fertilizers and animal feedstuffs from abroad have been highly restricted by the Israeli authorities. For example, imports of fertilizers from Jordan and Egypt were allowed up to six thousand tons annually.
Restriction on water and land utilization: Of all the problems affect the Palestinian agricultural sector, water is the most complex issue. Water pumping and utilization in the WBGS has long been subjected to Israeli restrictions and regulations. Israeli water policy has influenced Palestinian agricultural.
Constraints affecting trade with the rest of the world Obstacles to imports of feedstuffs from other countries than Israel have influenced the Palestinian diary sub-sector. Concerning exporting, Palestinian products can be exported directly without restrictions. However, Palestinian export are subjected to Israeli practices such as security measures, checks and inspections that slow and sometimes impede the free movement of agricultural goods outside the WBGS. A major consequence of these practices is that Palestinian agricultural exports reach final destination countries late or damaged, affecting the reliability and reputation of Palestinian producers in foreign markets.
Trade liberalization WBGS as well as developing countries, are net importers of food products. They face serious difficulties in their balance of payments. When the trade of WBGS liberalize the domestic market will be less isolated from the international and regional prices.
Provide the legal framework and promoting establishment of growers, exporters and commission agents associations. Such associations would help in organizing production, marketing, and exports and providing marketing information about markets, standards and products quality.
Producers and exporters associations could be utilized as an instrument for providing specialized extension services and training for growers and exporters.
Full collaboration with the private sector associations in order to establish an effective marketing information system that helps all stakeholder involved in production, marketing, exporting, importing consumers and researchers.
Establishing a quality standard system for agricultural products and food processing industries Low quality products is one of the major problems facing Palestinian exporters especially to Europe. Several trial shipments of seedless grapes to the UK markets have failed due to the low quality of the products. Establishing such systems will change the entire marketing system and its competitiveness. Quality assurance programs should be developed to help growers, marketers and producers to comply with grades and standards of agricultural products sold in domestic and international markets.