Nablus, West Bank (July 24, 2012) — Since the beginning of 2012, 40 Palestinian women have successfully established market gardens that will provide them with a sustainable source of income. Each of the women is the sole income provider for her family.
The 40 women have received supplies and training from the Near East Foundation (NEF) as part of a project to improve the livelihoods of women and their families, and to improve the economy in the Jordan Valley.
NEF support is helping each of the women launch her own business growing thyme, an herb traditionally used in the Palestinian Territories and surrounding region.
Since April, the women have earned an average of $150.00 from harvested thyme, sold either fresh or dried. Because the herbs are newly-planted and not yet matured, the small initial yields will be used primarily for home cooking, dried for tea, and stored for medicinal purposes.
The project began in January 2012 with the NEF team distributing thyme seedlings to the 40 women, who have volunteered to participate in the pilot project. As the women planted, the NEF team monitored for conditions that favor a successful harvest, including appropriate distance between plants and proper watering.
Since then, NEF experts have visited the women regularly to help them prepare for their first harvest. Experts have held training sessions on the fundamentals of production, such as how to properly trim seedlings for maximum growth.
By the Fall of 2012 the women will harvest again. Their plants will have taken root and matured, and the larger yield will be sold at the local market, providing the women with the first significant income from their gardens.
Among the women participating in the project is Amneh, from the village of Nassariyeh, who is raising her brother’s children by herself. As the first harvest for market sale approaches, Amneh is planning to use the money she earns to buy school supplies and toys for her nephews.
The women will continue to advance their knowledge in horticulture and agriculture – and with it their opportunities for the future – through an NEF agreement with the Palestinian Center for Agricultural Research and Development, which will lead ongoing trainings for the duration of the project.
Each of the 40 participants has agreed to share her new knowledge and skills with other women. Through this model, the project will begin as a grassroots effort and continue to impact an increasing number of women.
The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF helps build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and to empower citizens through “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit http://www.neareast.org.