In September 2006 USAID awarded ACDI/VOCA a $5 million cooperative agreement to implement the West Bank Food Security Program. The program was designed to reduce food insecurity and improve sustainable livelihoods for over 2,175 rural and smallholder farmer households by increasing their agricultural production and expanding cooperative agribusiness. By the end of the two-year program, approximately 15,225 people benefited from ACDI/VOCA-led interventions in the region.
Program activities fell under two main components:
- increased individual household food production and livelihood strengthening
- increased smallholder income through enhanced cooperative capacity and commercial agriculture growth
ACDI/VOCA worked with cooperatives, farmer groups, smallholder farmers, households, and women to produce, increase the value of, and improve the marketability of crops and processed foods in local Palestinian and Israeli markets.
To increase household food production and strengthen livelihoods, the program targeted marginalized and female-headed households for home-based production of vegetables and fruits to provide a source of food and supplemental income and to increase coping ability. The activity improved the use of farming technologies such as drip irrigation, cultivation practices, and integrated pest management to enhance beneficiary skills and knowledge of fruit and vegetable cultivation. ACDI/VOCA helped households not only meet some of their own basic food needs but also generate additional income through the sale of surplus garden vegetables to address other needs. Household agricultural production was improved through the construction of water and greenhouse structures such as cisterns and gray wastewater treatment units and small greenhouses.
To enhance cooperative capacity and commercial agricultural growth, ACDI/VOCA increased the capacity of Palestinian agricultural cooperatives, farmer organizations, and producers to produce high-quality products that are competitive in local Palestinian and Israeli markets. Beneficiaries’ incomes were also augmented through the program's technical assistance activities that improved market linkages. Training was provided to ensure that beneficiaries employed optimal commercial farming techniques to increase production.
ACDI/VOCA targeted producers working in olive oil, small ruminant dairy, and smallholder commercial vegetable produce sectors and focused on home-based food processing among women’s groups. Specific activities included
- enhancing cooperative agribusiness growth
- developing horticulture production and marketing for greenhouse vegetable farmers and cooperatives
- improving olive production, harvesting, pressing, and oil storage
- strengthening small ruminant dairy sectors
- increasing the number of household value-added products
Both the rural household support and cooperative capacity-building components provided support to communities at risk, allowing them to lessen food insecurity, economic loss, and impoverishment by
- increasing smallholder productivity, growth, and competitiveness
- strengthening household agriculture production
- emphasizing market-driven smallholder production
- improving access to local and Israeli markets
- transporting food from production areas to places of need/demand