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Economic Facts on Olives in Palestine

During the olive harvest, many Palestinian families are busy picking olives on their lands. Olives have always been considered a symbol of homeland and steadfastness. They are also the primary source of livelihood for tens of thousands of Palestinians.


Asma Marzouq- Palestine Economy Portal

Translated by Tamara Barakat

The significance of the olive harvest lies in the fact that it is one of the main sources of agricultural income in Palestine, for it can contribute with around 20% of the agricultural production in some years, and 2.14% of the Palestinian Gross Domestic Product.  

Olives form a direct and indirect source of livelihood for around 100 thousand families. Most of its production takes place in the West Bank, which produces 95% of the overall Palestinian production of olive, while only 5% is produced in Gaza.

The overall profits of one dunum of olive trees is estimated to be around $84, and the overall profits of the olive harvest in Palestine might exceed $84 million annually since there are 11 million olive trees planted over an area of a million dunums. This number of olive trees is not small in comparison to the area and population numbers. They are planted on 50% of the agricultural land in Palestine, which means that there are 2.3 trees for each Palestinian citizen.

The operational costs for a dumum ranges between $100 – 140 that return to the family itself since most families rely on their own members in picking and taking care of the olive trees.

Moreover, the olive harvest season creates a great number of job opportunities for Palestinians in industrial and non-industrial facilities, such as olive presses. According to the statistics published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics last year, there are 265 operating presses that have contributed to employing 1,353 people, 72.8% of which worked for wages that reached an overall of a million dollars.

Settlement activity is the main obstacle in the face of olive production in Palestine. In addition to the confiscation of Palestinian land, the terrorist attacks of settlers form a real threat to the trees and the people. A few days since the beginning of the olive harvest, settlers launched tens of attacks involving burning and uprooting the trees, stealing the olives, and attacking the farmers and activists.

Furthermore, a report published by the Ministry of Agriculture revealed that since 2011 and until today, settlers have destroyed around 73 thousand olive trees, incurring the farmers losses that reached $91 million.

According to the Ministry, Palestinian citizens own 40 thousand dunums of land in the West Bank, located around the settlements, the Apartheid Wall, and the areas that Israel considers security zones that cannot be accessed without coordination or a permit.

* Statistics and numbers taken from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and the Palestinian Olive and Oil Council.