Two Women in One of World’s Poorest Countries Grow Surprisingly Rare Crop, Slowly Manage to Lift Themselves Out of Poverty

gaza strip woman poverty broccoli farmer

The women have taken to growing a crop that is not especially well known in their area, but has proven to be an economic boon in troublesome times.



As far as the most poverty-stricken countries in the world go, few are suffering as badly as Palestine, which has been the victim of blockades by its neighbor Israel, airstrikes, a system of militarized checkpoints, and a laundry list of critically important issues that have not been addressed by the international community.

In the Gaza Strip, which has been blockaded and isolated from the rest of the world since June 2007, the poverty rate currently stands at over half of the country’s overall population, according to the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics.

But in spite of these challenges, two women from the beleaguered Palestinian territory have taken it upon themselves to upend poverty in the most wholesome of ways, by growing a “rare” crop that shows once again just how good we’ve got things here in the United States.


Women Lift Themselves Out of Poverty by Growing Rare Yet Common Crop

gaza strip poverty children

Gaza has a poverty rate of more than 50% among residents, and kids are suffering. Learn more at The Borgen Project


Showcasing the power of small-scale, localized and natural agriculture, which the United Nations stated was the best way to feed the world (and stop climate change) as part of its 2013 report ‘Wake Up Before It’s Too Late,’ two mothers from the Strip embarked upon a curious project to maximize the growth potential of the small amount of land they had available, in both a literal and figurative sense.

The mothers, 24-year-old Fatime Barakeh, and 32-year-old Bisan Qadieh, work about six hours per day in order to grow their farming business.

Staring down poverty in the tiny yet resilient territory, the two matriarchs chose to grow Brassica oleracea var. italica, aka broccoli, as a means to support their families, including their husbands, who have all struggled as a result of the high unemployment levels in Gaza, according to a report from Mohammed Assad, a Gaza-based correspondent for the Middle East Monitor.

The way the mothers went about their plan was simple, yet brilliant.


They began by consulting farmers in their area before siding with broccoli as their plant of choice, as the extraordinarily healthy cruciferous vegetable is rare in the territory.

Most people have little to no chance of obtaining it from the outside world, either, due to the fact that a military blockade has been imposed and campaigns have even been launched against smugglers of goods into the country.

To put their plan into motion, the duo began purchasing seedlings from a nursery in the capital of Gaza City before planting about a dunum of land (about 0.001 square kilometers) with the broccoli seeds.

gaza strip working in the fields

The two mothers work on their broccoli crop in Gaza. Photo via MEM

The Middle East Monitor goes on to write that the mothers hope to add more broccoli crops to the remaining land they have in hopes of improving their income, and their families’ quality of life.

While much of the world’s societies have lost the wisdom of rural communities, their hard work, dedication and success is yet another reminder of the importance of innovation, as well as serving the community by adding resources or skills to the mix that would not have been available otherwise.

Thank you for reading! For more info, check out Middle East Monitor by clicking on this link.

You can also learn more about what life is like amid the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by checking out the book ‘Footnotes in Gaza’ by author Joe Sacco, which has over 85% five-star reviews on

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About Nick Meyer

Nick Meyer is a journalist who's been published in the Detroit Free Press, Dallas Morning News and several other outlets. He founded AltHealthWORKS in 2012 to showcase extraordinary stories of healing and the power of organic living, stories the mainstream media always seemed to miss. Check out Nick's Amazon best-seller 'Dirt Cheap Organic: 101 Tips For Going Organic on a Budget' by clicking here, as well as its sequel Dirt Cheap Weight Loss.