Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC)
Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) was established in 1983 and has become a leading non-governmental organization in the fields of rural development, environmental protection and women’s empowerment. They work with more than 160,000 rural and marginalized Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. PARC promotes sustainable development and aims to build greater food security at the household, community and territorial levels.
Supporting Palestinian farmers is crucial as Palestinian agriculture suffers from a lack of open access to markets, scattered land holdings, a perennial shortage of water and land confiscation. These problems are tied to the Palestinians experience of the Israeli occupation—border closures, the Separation Wall, water usurpation, and settlement expansion.
PARC works with women heads of households to use rooftops, backyards and small scraps of land between buildings for gardening and animal husbandry. The women are provided with vegetable and fruit seeds and seedlings, as well as with breeding rabbits. Grassroots has supported PARC’s Urban Agriculture program, particularity home gardens, continuously since 2005. PARC has also been active in fair trade circles and their fair trade (and organic) olive oil is available in Europe and in the United States. Ultimately, all of their work aims to significantly contribute to the building of a Palestinian democratic and civil society.
Since the siege began in 2006 and especially since the 2008-09 attack, Gaza has lost as much as 70% of its agricultural land, leaving more than 80% of the population dependent on imported food aid—much of which is turned around at the Israeli border. These challenges highlight the need for a comprehensive decentralized urban development strategy in the Gaza Strip. PARC’s expanded work with local community and grassroots organizations hand in hand with their Urban Agriculture program offers this solution—growing their work to each corner of Gaza and building the food sovereignty movement in Palestine.