Gaza's Agriculture Health Plummets Amid Conflict: UNOSAT, FAO

Geneva, Switzerland - The United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has released an update on the health and density of agricultural areas in the Gaza Strip.

A comprehensive land-cover analysis by UNOSAT reveals that agricultural land in the Gaza Strip encompasses an estimated 151 square kilometers, constituting roughly 41% of the territory's total area. This land is crucial for ensuring food security in the region. However, 57% of these permanent crop fields and arable lands showed a significant decline in health and density in May 2024, compared to the average over the past seven years.

This decline marks a 30% increase in damaged agricultural land since UNOSAT's last analysis in April 2024.

Additionally, the analysis indicates a notable rise in the destruction of the orchards and other trees, field crops and vegetables in the Gaza Governorate, with a 20-percentage point increase compared to the previous April 2024 analysis.

The North Gaza Governorate experienced the most pronounced increase in destruction, with the percentage rising from 46% in April 2024 to 68% in May 2024.

Utilizing satellite imagery from the Sentinel-2 satellite collected between May 2017 and 2024, this new analysis provides a comprehensive overview of the ongoing conflict's impact on food security in the Gaza Strip.

UNOSAT, with technical expertise from the FAO, conducted a Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) analysis and multitemporal classification to pinpoint significant changes in agricultural health and density over the past seven years.

In May 2024, crop health and density across the Gaza Strip showed a marked decline compared to the average of the previous seven seasons. This deterioration is attributed to conflict-related activities, including razing, heavy vehicle movement, bombing, and shelling.

The assessment, which covers damage to permanent crop fields, arable land, and fallow lands, offers a detailed view of the agricultural sector's overall health - and its ability to support food security.

Satellite imagery further revealed significant damage to greenhouses across the Gaza Strip. An estimated 427 hectares of greenhouses were negatively impacted. The governorate of Khan Younis bore the brunt of this damage in terms of total area, with 217 hectares (41.9% of all greenhouses) affected. However, the Gaza Governorate had the highest proportion of damaged greenhouses relative to its total greenhouse area. In this region, 88.8% (34 hectares) of greenhouses were damaged.

UNOSAT remains committed to providing accurate and timely information to support humanitarian efforts in conflict-affected areas. Our satellite imagery-based analysis serves as a crucial tool for assessing the extent of damage and guiding emergency relief efforts.

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