Al-Muqadasa Fair Trade Producers’ Company is part of Palestinian Fair Trade Association (PFTA) which represents over thirty Cooperatives totalling a membership of 777 plus farmers, with 4300 ha of olive orchard. Each farmer supports a large extended family so the Fairtrade oil helps to elevate 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 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 packaged 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 new ‘security’ wall. Simple tasks of day to day business may involve circuitous 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.
Olive producer Abu Asim
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.