In the Gaza Strip, mushroom cultivation provides an alternative source of protein amid the lack of food caused by the Israeli blockade.
The mushrooms are sold to local restaurants and distributed to income-generation projects, but could later be traded abroad if the Israeli-imposed export ban is lifted.
Several laboratories in Gaza are stepping up mushroom cultivation – providing a valuable source of protein for the local population.
“We came up with this idea mushroom cultivation as a substitute for other proteins. It is comparable in its nutritional structure with meat protein, and has significant medical benefits,” says Ahmed Mahrooq, director of the Beach Experimental Station.
Such laboratories can be built at a low-cost, and easily replicated by Gazans.
With backing from charity organizations, mushroom-growing projects are steadily expanding.
“Women frequently come to the center ask for assistance. I show them these techniques as a way of providing an income for their families, for their children. It’s like having a cow – it raises their standard of living,” says Awatef Abu Toha, head of the Haifa Care for the Family.
Itaf also teaches people how to cultivate mushrooms.
“My husband is an unemployed agricultural engineer. We did not start this project to show people how important it is, people know that already, we just gave people information about how to cook and sell it,” says Itaf Al-Oshi, owner of a mushroom cultivation project.
These projects show Gazans’ resourcefulness in surviving the Israeli blockade and keeping their economy alive.