FAIRTRADE OLIVES FROM PALESTINE LAUNCHED IN DURBAN
17.08.2012 - In addition to the range of African Fairtrade products already available in local stores, South Africans can now purchase Fairtrade organic green olives from Palestine. The olives are imported and distributed in South Africa by Zaytoun, which was founded in 2004 to work with Palestinian farmers who had lost their olive and olive oil exports since the intifada.
“We are very pleased with the addition of the olives to the local market. Purchasing Zaytoun’s Fairtrade certified olives allows consumers to help empower oppressed and disadvantaged Palestinian farming communities through a sustainable initiative that works through trade and not aid”, says Boudewijn Goossens, Executive Director of Fairtrade Label South Africa. He adds “In addition to receiving fair prices for their olives, these small-scale farmers will also receive the Fairtrade Development Premium which is generally reinvested in the growth of their businesses and into community development initiatives like healthcare facilities, schools and infrastructure”.
The Fairtrade olives are produced by a co-operative located in the West Bank that works with over 1,700 families across Palestine. Through their business with Fairtrade, which started in 2009 when Zaytoun first partnered with the co-operative to launch the world’s first Fairtrade olive oil, farmer members have received significantly increased support. The Fairtrade Development Premium is now used to fund micro-loan projects and training for farmers who want to start side-businesses such as the processing of sun-dried tomatoes, and for university scholarships for the farmer’s children.
Apart from the Development Premium, Palestinian olive farmers see a deeper benefit in selling olives through the Fairtrade market. “You are treated as a human being, not as an invisible machine that makes food for invisible people. Fairtrade makes me feel free and trusted to make something really good not just from my land but also for my life”, explains Abu Rafat, co-operative member, when asked about the benefit of being a Fairtrade farmer. A woman farmer, Rwada Kader, notes how Fairtrade gives her more emotional and economic stability.
Palestine is the home of the olive tree, with some of the oldest olive groves in the world, dating as far back as 1500 to 2000 years. Palestinian olive trees produce fruit that supports over half the population and can be seen as dominating the agricultural landscape. Palestine has been struggling to establish a viable economy and supporting their farmers is a valuable chance for the South African community to contribute to this viability. To create further employment opportunities, packaging and labelling is also done in Palestine.
“We are grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response for the olives. We are currently working on our next order, which is expected to arrive by early October. In the upcoming months, we hope to expand our range of Fairtrade and organic labelled products, and to increase our distribution nationally”, says Khatija Rasool, Director of Zaytoun SA.
Click here to see the list of shops where you can buy the Fairtrade green olives.