Canaan Fair Trade
The olive branch has become an enduring symbol of peace and goodwill. Not only is the oil a time honoured culinary delight but has been used throughout the centuries to care for the skin – to nourish, soften, smooth and protect it.Inspired by these virtues, Perfect Potion has embraced this highly regarded skin nourisher and formulated “Nourish” – a certified natural skin care range made with certified organic and fair trade olive oil from the ancient fields of Palestine – the land of milk and honey.
Perfect Potion purchases this precious olive oil through Canaan Fair Trade who sells olive oil produced by over 1,700 small farmers, organized in village co-operatives and represented by the Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA) in the West Bank of Palestine. Canaan Fair Trade uses the fair trade concept to empower marginalized Palestinian rural communities caught in conflict so they can sustain their livelihoods and culture.
Nasser Abufarha, the founder of Canaan Fair Trade, shares:
Our farmer and women cooperative members want the world to know that the simple act of buying a bottle of olive oil from Canaan Fair Trade’s distributors around the world helps Palestinian families like theirs survive and maintain their connection to their land and their ancient olive trees.
Canaan promotes cross-cultural, interfaith, and multi-ethnic connection of all participants in the production and trade processes: workers, farmers, processors, traders, exporters, importers, distributors and consumers. The idea is to create one community connected by the fair exchange of goods in a cross-cultural setting.
Currently the Palestinian economy is dominated by international aid services and Palestinian farmers, along with the rest of the population, face daily challenges living under the military occupation of Israel. Some of these difficulties include lack of access to their land due to the Separation Barrier/Wall built by Israel, the building of illegal Israeli settlements on their land along with settler violence, restricted movement within and to and from Palestine due to Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks and water restrictions placed on them by Israel.
The United Nations, along with other organisations such as Amnesty International, document the ongoing challenges the farmers contend with.
The Separation Barrier/Wall
“Approximately 2 million olive trees are denied regular access by their farmers. 2 million trees can produce $50 to $80 million a year,” says Nasser Abufarha of Canaan Fair Trade.
In 2002, the Government of Israel decided to build a Barrier with the stated aim of preventing violent attacks by Palestinians inside Israel. However, the vast majority of the Barrier’s route is located within the West Bank, separating Palestinian communities and farming land from the rest of the West Bank and contributing to the fragmentation of the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Barrier consists of concrete walls, fences, ditches, razor wire, groomed sandpaths, an electronic monitoring system, patrol roads, and a buffer zone. Approximately 150 Palestinian communities have land located behind the Barrier.
According to the United Nations, agriculture-based livelihoods of thousands of families have been undermined due to the permit and gate regime, which restrict access to farmland behind the Barrier. Permit applications are regularly rejected on grounds that farmers failed to prove their ‘connection to the land’ to the satisfaction of the Israeli authorities, as well as on security grounds. The limited opening of the agricultural gates, the majority of which only open during the olive harvest (October-December) has forced permit-holders to stop cultivation or to shift from labour-intensive to rain-fed and low-value crops.
The International Court of Justice has called on Israel to cease construction of, dismantlethe sections already completed, and repeal all legislative measures related to that the Barrier. Source: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_barrier_factsheet_july_2013_english.pdf
Illegal Settlements and Settler Violence
“Unchecked Israeli settler intimidation prevents farmers from accessing their crops,” says Nasser Abufarha of Canaan Fair Trade.
Since 1967, Israel has established about 150 settlements in the West Bank in addition to some 100 “outposts” erected by settlers without their official authorization. Three new settlements were approved in 2012 by retroactively ‘authorizing’ such outposts.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory.
Seizure of land for settlement building and future expansion has resulted in the shrinking of space available for Palestinians to develop adequate housing, basic infrastructure and services and to sustain their livelihoods. These and related measures have contributed to the forced displacement of families and communities.
This fragmentation undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, which is to be realized with the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state alongside Israel. Source: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_settlements_FactSheet_December_2012_english.pdf
Settler violence poses a serious challenge for many Palestinian farmers. Palestinian-owned olive trees have been damaged, uprooted, poisoned, burnt down or harvested by settlers. The Israeli authorities have sought to implement a system to limit Palestinian farmers’ access to olive trees near 55 settlements to a few days a year; Israeli soldiers are deployed to support their access during these periods. This has resulted in fewer attacks on farmers but is ineffective in preventing the vandalizing of olive trees throughout the rest of the year.
This system penalizes farmers by limiting their access, rather than enforcing the rule of law on violent settlers. The vast majority of complaints regarding settler violence against Palestinian farmers and their property that are filed with the Israeli Police are closed without indictment. Source: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_olive_harvest_factsheet_october_2012_english.pdf
At present, OCHA (United Nations Office for the co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) estimates 110 Palestinian communities, with a combined population of over 315,000 people, are vulnerable to settler violence; of these, almost 60 communities (population over 130,000) are at high-risk. In total, during 2013, 10,142 trees were reported burned, uprooted, or otherwise vandalized. Source: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_annual_review_2014.pdf
Checkpoints and Roadblocks
Checkpoints, in conjunction with other physical obstacles and permit requirements, form part of a comprehensive system used by the Israeli authorities, citing security concerns, to control Palestinian movement in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. As of the end of 2013 there were 59 permanently staffed military checkpoints within the West Bank. Additionally, there are 25 partial checkpoints, which have permanent infrastructure but are staffed on an ad-hoc basis, as well as dozens of ‘flying’ checkpoints deployed on a daily basis along roads and junctions; in 2013, OCHA (United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) recorded a monthly average of 243 flying checkpoints. Source: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_annual_review_2014.pdf
“The effect of lack of irrigation shrinks our harvest annually by some 40 to 50% ; an estimated value of approximately $200 million a year,” explains Nasser Abufarha of Canaan Fair Trade.
Israeli settlers in the West Bank, consume approximately six times the water consumed by Palestinians. This is the result of a discriminatory allocation of water resources between Israeli settlements and Palestinian communities. Moreover, wells and springs that are available to Palestinians are generally degraded as the Israeli authorities deny Palestinians permits for installing, upgrading or protecting their water sources to provide sufficient quantities, while simultaneously, they continue to drill deeper and more efficient wells for their own use.
Physical obstacles to Palestinian movement inside the West Bank, such as roadblocks, checkpoints and the Barrier, obstruct Palestinian access to springs, wells and other water points, and compel Palestinians to travel long distances. These obstacles also hinder water tankers and sewage disposal trucks from accessing certain areas, with increased travel distance and costs. The limited availability of and access to water has a particularly severe impact on Bedouin communities in area C, given their dependency on farming and herding as a source of livelihood. Source: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_fragmented_lives_annual_report_2013_english_web.pdf
“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Access to water resources by Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories is controlled by Israel and the amount of water available to Palestinians is restricted to a level which does not meet their needs and does not constitute a fair and equitable share of the shared water resources. Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20 per cent. It is the only source of underground water in the occupied Palestinian territories but one of several for Israel. Israel accesses the surface water available from the Jordan River while denying Palestinians any share.
Water rationing is common for Palestinians, especially but not only in the summer months, with residents of different neighbourhoods and villages receiving piped water only one day every week or every few weeks. Consequently, many Palestinians have no choice but to purchase additional supplies from mobile water tankers which deliver water at a much higher price and of often dubious quality. As unemployment and poverty have increased in recent years and disposable income has fallen, Palestinian families in the OPT must spend an increasingly high percentage of their income – as much as a quarter or more in some cases – on water.
While Palestinians throughout the occupied Palestinian territories are being denied access to an equitable share of the shared water resources and are increasingly affected by the lack of adequate water supplies, Israeli settlers face no such challenges – as indicated by their intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools. Source: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/027/2009/en/e9892ce4-7fba-469b-96b9-c1e1084c620c/mde150272009en.pdf
Alongside the day to day challenges of farming, Nasser Abufarha explains some of the issues that restrict trade for Palestinians, “The lack of mobility for most Palestinians restricts their ability to have regular business interaction with global markets. Then there is the difficulty in navigating restrictions placed on the importation of manufacturing goods making costs higher than those for similar businesses in Israel. Furthermore, Palestinians are not allowed direct access to ports. We have to go through Israeli ports. Traders cannot fill containers at their facility/factory and we have to swap loads at checkpoints entering Israel. This is an additional cost to inland transportation. Then we have to hire an Israeli company to pack containers at the port after inspection. This is another additional cost.”
Purchasing olive oil and produce from Canaan Fair Trade not only assists in providing a sustainable income and hope for farmers, but allows Canaan to establish and maintain several social enterprises. These include the provision of micro-loans, especially to women’s co-operatives, one of which makes high quality olive oil soaps. Canaan also extends 10 four-year scholarships annually to the children of farmers belonging to the Palestinian Fair Trade Association who are marginalised and disadvantaged.
This year Canaan Fair Trade is establishing the Canaan Center for Organic Research and Extension (CORE). This will be a national institute bringing organic and sustainable agricultural knowledge and practice to Palestinian farmers, giving them ownership in activities that are economically rewarding and culturally meaningful.
Visit www.canaanfairtrade.com to find out more about Canaan Fair Trade.
Visit perfectpotion.com.au to check out our certified natural Nourish skin care range made with Palestinian olive oil from Canaan Fair Trade along with the creamy olive oil soaps made by a Canaan Fair Trade’s women’s co-operative and their famous Nabali olive oil to enjoy with your meals.
NOURISH RANGE – MADE WITH PALESTINIAN OLIVE OIL
PALESTINIAN OLIVE OIL