` Boost for Palestinian Fair Trade Olive Oil

Africa / Middle East

Boost for Palestinian Fair Trade Olive Oil

Jan. 17, 2011
By Tom Baker

Recent News

By Tom Baker
Olive Oil Times Con­trib­u­tor | Report­ing from Buenos Aires

The Pales­tin­ian-Amer­i­can entre­pre­neur Nasser Abu­farha, Founder of the non­profit Pales­tine Fair Trade Asso­ci­a­tion (PFTA), and Canaan Fair Trade, the largest exporter of fair trade and organic Pales­tin­ian olive oil to the US and Europe, is to speak in Santa Cruz today.

Mr. Abu­farha will be dis­cussing the work of fair trade orga­ni­za­tions in Pales­tine and will also receive a dona­tion of $25,000 toward the Association’s work.

In 2004 the PFTA cre­ated the first inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized stan­dard for fair trade olive oil and has since gone on to intro­duce fair trade and organic farm­ing
tech­niques to thou­sands of Pales­tin­ian farm­ers in the west bank region. This has both helped boost exports of Pales­tin­ian olive oil and has also “…given farm­ers hope. An eco­nomic exchange that rec­og­nizes Pales­tin­ian farm­ers’ rights and respects the value of their con­nec­tion to the land.” Mr. Abu­farha said.

The goal of the PFTA and Canaan Fair Trade has been along two lines: to increase the qual­ity of pro­duc­tion, cre­at­ing a sys­tem that is at once sus­tain­able, eth­i­cal, and true to Palestine’s long his­tory of olive oil mak­ing, and to build groups of small pro­duc­ers to bet­ter tar­get inter­na­tional mar­kets.

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I worked with them to build co-ops,” Mr. Abu­farha said in an inter­view with foodspring.com, and helped them net­work their co-ops and address qual­ity issues so olive oil could meet export stan­dards.”

In work­ing together, farm­ers are able to ben­e­fit from col­lec­tive press­ing that allows them to press smaller yields on a daily basis, result­ing in higher qual­ity oil with a lower acid­ity. They are also able to main­tain tra­di­tional farm­ing
tech­niques, with min­i­mal use of machin­ery, ensur­ing that the land retains its
qual­ity for future gen­er­a­tions.

In addi­tion to orga­niz­ing local farm­ers, the asso­ci­a­tion has pro­vided col­lege schol­ar­ships for the chil­dren of farm­ers as well as micro-loans for women’s farm­ing co-ops.

In 2006 and 2010, farm­ers were backed by a two-wave scheme intro­duced by the IMF designed to aid Pales­tin­ian com­pa­nies in the pack­ag­ing and export­ing of their olive oil. This has meant that the indus­try has been able to con­sider new direc­tions for expan­sion. At the end of last year, a large num­ber of pro­duc­ers, sup­ported by the Euro­pean Union and the char­ity Oxfam, attended the annual Mid­dle East Nat­ural and Organic Prod­uct Expo­si­tion aim­ing to pro­mote fair trade Pales­tin­ian olive oil in the region.

This will be Mr. Abu­farha’s sec­ond visit to Santa Cruz in order col­lect dona­tions for the PFTA, but he has stated that his sat­is­fac­tion with the suc­cess of the asso­ci­a­tion goes beyond the eco­nomic as it “…touches the lives of thou­sands of fam­i­lies, cre­ates pos­i­tive change in the pro­duc­ers’ envi­ron­ment, brings spe­cial
del­i­ca­cies to the world, and con­nects Pales­tin­ian pro­duc­ers with food lovers
and socially and envi­ron­men­tally respon­si­ble com­mu­ni­ties around the world.”
.

Sources:

Canaan Fair Trade
Santa Cruz Sen­tinel
Foodspring.com
Ethiopian Review

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