Mokhlis Abu Arrah grows olives and almonds in the village of Aqaba. A member of the Palestine Fair Trade Association since 2013, he’s a beneficiary of the Trees for Life programme. Earlier this year, he planted 200 saplings sponsored by the tree planting scheme. The harvests from those trees will first arrive two years after planting, with a full harvest due in five years.
For Mokhlis, the income generated from farming has meant that he could leave his work as a farm labourer on Israeli citrus plantations. He supplements his income working as a decorator, but is able to spend more time farming his own land close to his home.
Farming provides a sustainable income
Aqaba is a village of around 300 residents, situated in the Tubas area 20km north of Nablus. Surrounded by two Israeli military bases and a series of checkpoints, its connections to neighbouring towns have been gradually severed and the population has fallen from 2,000 in 1967. Supporting farmers like Mokhlis means that village residents can rely on a livelihood that allows them to stay on their lands.
Drought-resistant almond and olive trees offer hope
Working with the PFTA offers support in many ways – village cooperatives share experience of climate resilience practices such as cover cropping between the trees to improve water retention and soil structure.
Mokhlis has noticed the effect of climate change recently, with rainfall growing more unpredictable and the summer heat growing more intense. Israeli control over Aqaba’s water supply means additional irrigation of crops is challenging, so the farming of drought-resistant almond and olive trees is an important part of Mokhlis’s livelihood resilience and food security.
Mokhlis values his connection to his land and trees. He told us “the saplings I received through Trees for Life mean so much more than simply an additional income, they mean hope for the future. I will continue to plant trees until the end of my days.”