Olive producer Abu Asim
Al-Muqadasa Fair Trade Producers’ Company is part of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association (PFTA) which represents over thirty cooperatives. With a membership totalling 777 plus farmers there are over 4300 hectares of olive orchards. Each farmer supports a large extended family so this Fairtrade oil helps to alleviate poverty in a much larger surrounding area.
Fairtrade certification is for the cooperatives of PFTA that own the Association. They contract with Canaan Fair Trade who is the exporter, with certified importers in the UK being Equal Exchange and Zaytoun.
PFTA oil is made from fresh, handpicked olives grown and harvested using traditional farming methods. The oil is picked, cold pressed and bottled in Palestine ensuring more local jobs are created.
Fair Trade is a new concept in Palestine. Life is dominated by their struggle for existence under occupation. Land confiscation is a constant threat; communities are separated from each other and their fields by the ‘security’ wall. Simple tasks for their day to day business may involve long journeys.
Whilst 75% of Palestinians live in poverty, over half of the country’s olive harvest goes unsold and spoils due to the restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation of the land. Olive trees are grown on over 80% of the cultivated land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the olive harvest plays a major role in the agricultural economy. Farmers bringing in this harvest face severe difficulties arising from military closure of the land and violence from illegal settlers.
The olives are grown by farmers in cooperatives from the Jenin, Salfit and Ramallah areas. Each farmer has grown olives on the family farm and then organised pressing through their own local co-operative.
The oil is bottled and exported by Canaan fair trade, creating local jobs.
Olive trees are the most important cultivated tree crop for Palestinian farmers. The industry involves over 100,000 people.
Nearly all production comes from small terraced fields and old trees of local varieties. Summers are hot and dry, rainfall is low and water resources are scarce. Irrigation is impossible. Farmers have few resources to prune or fertilize the trees so cropping has developed a biennial pattern which creates further economic burdens.
“Our high quality is an expression of the hardworking Palestinian farmer, the farmer who sweats in his fields to produce this quality.”
– Sammer Khabbas
From this producer group: