When Ghazi Hijazi started to grow flowers nearly three decades ago on two dunams (0.49 acres) of land in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, he thought it was the opportunity of a lifetime and a legacy to leave his eight sons.
The farmer allocated two dunams of his land to flowers in 1991. By 2000, he had begun using 40 dunams (approximately 10 acres) to plant carnations. “My father expanded the farm every year. We worked with him,” one of his sons, Mohammad Hijazi, told Al-Monitor. “We had around 25 workers helping us, and during the harvest season of carnations, which begins in December and ends in June, we would hire more so we could quickly prep the flowers for export.”
The boys worked alongside their father and learned the business. “We would start working at five in the morning during harvest season and stop after midnight. We used to work a lot. We would have our three meals at the farm and even sleep there, but only for a few hours and then get back to work,” said Mohammad, now 35.
“Despite the hard work, it was fun planting and harvesting flowers. Being close to them gave us great psychological comfort,” he added. The flowers also brought great profits. Particularly when they started exporting flowers in the mid-1980s, the profits grew as well.