A Palestinian farmer hopes to influence others to use solar power in a bid to end their reliance on expensive fuel powered generators. Gaza officials want international donors to help fund the technology across the Palestinian-run territory. Sharon Reich reports.
Hashem Abu Nada installed solar panels on his farm in the Gaza Strip to help generate power and irrigate the land. Most local farmers rely on generators that run fuel to produce electricity. But with Israeli restrictions on imports, including fuel supplies, Abu Nada wanted a more reliable source to ensure his crops survive. SOUNDBITE: Hashem Abu Nada, Farmer, saying (Arabic): "I started my new solar power project to pump out water so that I could stay in this land, because I can't afford the high cost of fuel." His solar installation cost about $30,000 U.S. dollars. That's a lot of money - especially in the developing world. While traditional power supplies may be depleted, Nizar Alwehedy from the Ministry of Agriculture says with some outside help, solar energy could be the solution to Gaza's energy needs. SOUNDBITE: Nizar Alwehedy, Spokesman from the Ministry of Agriculture, saying (Arabic): "To get electricity from solar power is a good alternative and ... it's a message that we send to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) and to all the local and international donors. Gaza has long hours of sun, which makes it easy to resolve a lot of power problems in Gaza." Israel provides the Mediterranean territory with at least 35 percent of its energy needs, but closed off its own fuel pipeline into the enclave in 2010. Farmer Khaled Hussien says a reliable energy solution would help all locals. SOUNDBITE: Farmer Khaled Hussien saying (Arabic): "It's true that solar power projects cost a lot in the beginning. But it can be used for nearly 20 years. To save the cost of 20 years worth of fuel ... would be a good thing." Currently, the Gaza Strip only has one power station, which supplies the Palestinian enclave with up to two-thirds of its energy needs.