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At a time when the West Bank—Jenin governorate in particular—is facing an unprecedented economic shock, 63 farmers have installed drip irrigated greenhouses for cultivating market resilient baby cucumber in the village of Kafr Dan. At the same time, 55 farmers, throughout the Jenin Governorate, have set up drip-irrigated plots of climate-resilient thyme. The SMART Project is providing equipment and installation, and two local cooperatives, Kafr Dan Agricultural Cooperative and Jenin Farmers’ Cooperative, are able to aggregate produce and facilitate access to export markets in Israel despite movement restrictions related to the Gaza War.

Baby cucumber is an economically resilient crop given the feasibility of securing reliable export contracts when a large group of small farmers aggregate their produce. Thyme is also resilient, both economically and ecologically. Compared to other open field crops that require intensive tillage, irrigation, and yearly replanting, thyme is drought tolerant, generates less waste, prevents soil erosion, and has lower carbon emissions.

The assistance to farmers for baby cucumber and thyme cultivation contributes to a set of Jenin and Nablus Economic Resilience Initiatives that the SMART Project launched in the summer of 2023. These Resilience Initiatives aim to strengthen vulnerable microenterprises in the rural regions of the northern West Bank through a market systems approach, which leverages local partnerships with cooperatives and anchor firms. In addition to baby cucumber and thyme cultivation, parallel Initiatives are supporting beekeeping, food processing, and dairy value chains.

Jinan Maree, a farmer in Kafr Dan village, received support for both thyme and baby cucumber cultivation in November 2023. Her family depends on agriculture as the primary source of income, but markets are volatile, facing the combined effects of conflict and climate change. Jinan obtained one dunam of land from her father’s inheritance, and she always dreamed of investing in cultivating the land to be a more dependable source of income for her and her family. However, without the proper equipment and access to reliable markets, this dream was elusive and risky.

In collaboration with local farmers’ cooperatives and the SMART Project, implemented by DAI, Jinan got the opportunity to develop her underutilized land into a resilient source of revenue in November of 2023. She installed a greenhouse for baby cucumber cultivation and set up an open field plot for growing thyme. Through these timely, locally-led Initiatives, Jinan has secured a stable source of income when the Gaza War has destabilized livelihoods throughout the West Bank.

Overall, these two Resilience Initiatives are expected to increase production of thyme by 50 tons and baby cucumber by 630 tons, which will create over 200 new jobs and increase the environmental and economic resilience of critical agricultural value chains.

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