`Boost for Palestinian Fair Trade Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Boost for Palestinian Fair Trade Olive Oil

By Tom Baker
Jan. 17, 2011 09:18 UTC

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.

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.”


Canaan Fair Trade
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Ethiopian Review


Related Articles