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Alternative farming on the rise in besieged Gaza

Said Salim Abu Nasser has grown 3,500 kg of organic produce without any soil. He grows herbs, lettuce and peppers with aquaponic farming [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera] Click on image for larger file.

As fertile land shrinks and water crisis deepens, Palestinians are searching for different ways to feed their families.

By Mersiha Gadzo
Jan 28, 2017


At sunset on a warm January day, Said Salim Abu Nasser’s three grandsons crouched on the ground, using bricks to crush chalk into powder for calcium to help grow vegetables in water.

Abu Nasser, 53, has grown 3,500 kilogrammes of organic produce without any soil, transforming his rooftop and concrete lot in Gaza City into an organic oasis. He grows a dozen different types of vegetables and herbs for his family, including eight children and eight grandchildren.

Using hydroponic techniques, Abu Nasser can grow twice as many crops than with conventional techniques, and he saves 90 percent more water by recycling nutrient-dense water. His broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce and cauliflower float on polystyrene squares with holes cut into them, while their roots absorb nutrients from the water.

“For six months, I don’t need to change the water,” Abu Nasser said.

When the power is out, his solar panels produce enough energy, even in winter, for his pipes to pump oxygen into the water for his crops.

On his rooftop, he grows herbs, lettuce and peppers with aquaponic farming. The water, containing excrement from fish swimming in a barrel, is used as a vital nutrient to grow produce.

“We previously thought that it would be impossible to grow anything in high-salinity water, but after [Abu Nasser’s experiments], we found out that we can,” said Mahmoud Jawad al-Ajouz, a professor of agriculture at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University.

Read the complete article here.