Palestinian grape growers expect a bumper crop this year, helped in part by the COVID lockdowns that gave many of them more time to till their vines in the occupied West Bank. However, the pandemic’s economic ravages have also made fruit sales drop.
The pandemic, said Hebron Chamber of Commerce chairman Nour al-Deen Jaradat, “made people look after their lands more, and thus the production amounts increased, and so did the quality. But unfortunately there was a failure in marketing.”
For lack of customers, grapes that previous sold for around $10 box are now being turned into molasses at almost half the value, one fruit merchant told uk.reuters.com.
A UN agency has warned that the pandemic was compounding dire economic conditions in the Palestinian territories, where 2019 unemployment was 33% and GDP per capita is projected to fall by 3% to 4.5% this year.