Agriculture: the lifeblood of Palestine
In Palestine the overwhelming majority of people make their living from agriculture. This industry is the lifeblood of the communities living under Israeli occupation. Agriculture not only makes it possible for Palestinian families to survive, it also enables them to stay on their own land in a context of threatening annexation.
Export as a lifeline
Oxfam absolutely believes that Palestinian farmers have a right to access the international market. That’s why we are committed, despite the many obstacles in Palestine and Israel, to purchasing and selling the wonderful products of the PARC cooperative.
What makes it so difficult for the Palestinian farmers to export their products?
- scarce access to what they need to do their work, in terms of both labour and raw materials (Israel controls the region’s water supply)
- resistance from the Israeli settlements in the area
- no access (anymore) to their own harbour, such that the Israeli government has complete control over what is exported and what is not
- the lack of political stability leads to an uncertain investment climate
Fair trade gives 2,300 families a helping hand
PARC (Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee) supports agricultural projects in around a hundred Palestinian villages on the West Bank. Fair trade makes it possible for the organisation and its commercial arm, Al Reef Fair Trade, to lend a helping hand to around thirty cooperatives of producers and craftspeople.
They do so by advising them on matters of quality, by processing, packaging and promoting their products, and by bringing them to the international market under fair-trade conditions. Around 2,300 people are reaping the benefits of this.
- PARC has used the fair trade premium (info in Dutch) to establish an olive processing facility for the region of Bani Zeid. Three cooperatives send their olives here to be processed into olive oil.
- Together with PARC, Al Reef sets up all kinds of quality improvement and social projects in the region: from transition to organic date cultivation to a training centre for agricultural engineers (many of the students are children of the farmers).
PARC Al-Reef & Oxfam
- We’ve been closely connected to the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC) and Al Reef Fair Trade since 1993. Thanks to the guidance of Oxfam, among other forms of support, over the years PARC has been able to ramp up the variety of products it supplies and to meet the needs of the Belgian, and by extension European, market.
- Which has made it possible for part of the limited amount of export goods that makes it out of Palestine to end up in your local Oxfam-Wereldwinkel. Hand-rolled couscous, gooey-centred medjool dates and high-quality olive oil.
- The collaboration with PARC is also a form of symbolic support of a population that has been oppressed for so long. PARC is one of the largest Palestinian NGOs and fights for democracy. The ultimate goal: safety for the Palestinian people.