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PRICE PROJECT PUBLISHES A CASE STUDY ABOUT CANAAN AND PFTA

August 29, 2014

PRICE (Promoting Responsible Investments and Commerce in Europe: Fair Trade and Ethical Finance Responds to Global Crisis) is a project which aims to arise public awareness and promote education to mobilise greater financial support for actions against poverty and for fairer relations between developed and developing countries in the field of responsible investments for fair and sustainable trading activities.

To facilitate learning and sharing experiences between countries, the PRICE Project has set up a database with all that material that may be relevant for the interactions between Fair Trade and Ethical Finance. Here's their case study about Canaan and the PFTA.

See and download the study here.

Whole Foods Carries Palestinian Fair Trade Olive Oils

August 7, 2014

WHOLE FOODS CARRIES PALESTINIAN FAIR TRADE OLIVE OILS

Blog Entry by Julie Fahnestock in Corporate Social Responsibility
Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 7:30am

(3BL Media and Just Means) - It’s the purest olive oil you’ve ever tasted. It’s so pure you find yourself sneaking sips of it straight out of the bottle. The food it flavors becomes secondary as every excuse is made to showcase its divine goodness. Salads are transformed. Greek yogurt with zaatar and the Rumi variety show up as the main entree. Dessert is Nabali with grilled figs. Yes, Canaan Fair Trade’s olive oil is this delicious. And today, you can buy their Jerusalem Blend and a selection of the company’s Palestinian products in almost every U.S. Whole Foods Market.*

Two years ago, I spent the summer in the hills of the West Bank. As part of a research impact assessment, I worked with Canaan Fair Trade, interviewing their farmers and chronicling their journeys. We uncovered powerful stories of determination and perseverance. The faces of fair trade, the women the children and the small farmers—the reason why the model exists and why it works—graciously invited me into their homes and generously shared their commitment to their land, to their heritage and to their future. Through our research, we found that the fair trade model is able to support small farmers and build their local communities despite living and working in an occupied territory. This discovery was huge for the fair trade movement, demonstrating that the model serves its purpose even in the most challenging of circumstances.

Farmer Odeh Abed Al Aziz Ali told me, “Fair trade is pride. I am prouder. I have more dignity and a better life. Instead of selling the land to make money, I am buying the land to make money. I invest in my land and I make money.”

For Palestinian olive farmers, their land and their olive trees represent life. They depend on the tree to feed their families, for sustenance and for nutrition. The olive harvest is ceremonial and involves the entire family. To celebrate the harvest season, Canaan Fair Trade offers olive harvest tours each year. This year’s harvest tour and celebration is November 1-8. It’s a great way to meet farmers impacted by fair trade and to gain a better understanding of what the olive tree means to them and to their culture. And it’s a great way to meet the people who have handcrafted every delicious ounce of oil you drizzle on your toast.

For Whole Foods to carry Canaan Fair Trade’s product line provides a highly visible representation of the Palestinian people and their culture. I’ll never forget the words of Farmer Saleh Ayasi:

“For me, I have great pride that my Palestinian product is reaching all over the world. Some people may not know about Palestine, but my product raises the spirit of Palestine. Canaan’s products make a name for Palestine.”

Read about Canaan Fair Trade’s work here. Read about fair trade’s impact in Palestine here. Apply to join the Olive Harvest Tour. Check out their work on Facebook and find their products at your local Whole Foods Market.

*except for stores in Florida
*some Whole Foods Stores only carry a selection of Canaan Fair Trade's products

Click HERE for article.

Upsides: Anthropology Meets Business

April 14, 2014

Anthropology Meets Business
Upsides

14 April 2014

Nasser Abufarha is a successful social impact entrepreneur who has put Palestine on the map as a viable trade partner and producer of premium artisan goods. With an educational background in computer science, cultural anthropology, and international development, his reciprocity approach to business has helped Canaan Fair Trade become a multi-million dollar business.

You didn’t study business?
‘I grew up on a small vegetable farm in rural Palestine, but I was lucky enough to be scouted to attend university in the United States. I didn’t study business but in truth the social studies I undertook have helped me more than any business degree could have. I learned about human kind and how we interact, about social and cultural relations. I learned that when people receive something they want to give something in return, responding to positive actions with positive actions. This concept of reciprocity applied in business makes for a very cooperative way of working. At Canaan we apply this approach to every aspect of our business, from the way we care for our land to the way we work with our business partners. It helps us build strong, fruitful and lasting relationships.’

What was the inspiration for Canaan?
‘I wanted to change the world’s perception of Palestine from that of a war zone to that of a trade partner with premium products. I learned about the Fair Trade concept when I lived in the US – it was starting to become popular at the time. I knew the products in Palestine that lacked marketing opportunity, so I looked at market demands and tried to work out how we could meet those demands with the products we have. It wasn’t about creating a charity, but about creating a business that sells premium products.’

And olive oil was one of those products?
‘The olive oil market in Palestine has lots of middlemen, traders that take advantage of small and marginalised farmers. The olive harvest is in November and their sale finances other crops. But the traders would hold off buying until January, and the farmers would get into debt, and prices were pushed right down. At the same time the conflict in Palestine meant that the farmers had limited access to land, and limited access to water for irrigation. People lost interest in olive farming but I saw the possibility to reinvigorate it.’

How did you tap into the world market?
‘We developed the Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA) and Canaan Fair Trade. We committed to the farmers to buy their produce on fair terms, and at the time we developed the first internationally recognised fair trade standard for olive oil. The PFTA became the first producer of fair trade certified olive oil worldwide, and it now represents more than 1700 small farmers, organised in 50 village cooperatives. There’s a strong collaboration between the two organisations from education and training on better farming practices, to certification and inspections, to community development.’

Can you tell a bit more about the reciprocity approach in practice?
‘One example is how our farmers receive education and training on organic farming as well as premium pricing, and in turn they deliver fair trade organic practices and a sustained supply of premium goods. But it’s not only the farmers. We also aim to empower the communities we work with to facilitate long lasting commitments to each other. Next month for example we will open our new Research Centre endorsed by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture. It’s a not-for-profit organisation that will attract finance from donors and philanthropists and aims to strengthen organic farming locally and internationally. We also offer staff who have worked at Canaan for more than 10 years the opportunity to borrow up to US$100,000 as interest-free seed capital to start a new business. They’re encouraged and mentored – we already have a few employees who are building their business cases.’

What role did finance play in establishing your business?
‘In the beginning gaining access to finance was very challenging. The nature of our business means that we need to have finance partners that are in it for the long term, not just wanting a quick profit. When we first started we had limited resources and it was really tough for many years. We spent a lot of time and personal resources to get the business off the ground. We needed to have financial performance and to be able to show impact before we could attract investors or lenders. We eventually achieved a few small loans from local banks and then attracted finance from larger players like Netherlands-based Triodos, which has actually been a bigger help than just access to money. Having international finance partners brings credibility and it can be used as leverage to create other relationships – it’s always a good thing to have international names behind you.’

Have you changed perceptions of Palestine?
‘We are now internationally successful trade partners, but things locally have also changed. The farming sector has been rejuvenated and small-scale farmers have a guaranteed above market prices for finished premium products. The price of olive oil has tripled for cooperatives and doubled on the market. Traditional life and livelihood has been protected and there is renewed hope and dignity in farming communities.’

Article by Kelsey Barrett 

ILO PUBLISHES A REPORT ABOUT CANAAN AND THE PFTA

March 2, 2014

The International Labour Organization has featured Canaan the Palestine Fair Trade Association as a case study for the world to grow from and learn from in a 30-page report, as a part of a publication that reviews 8 cases of 'Catalyst' of rural transformation from different countries. The publication extracts lessons on the economic and development potential of rural areas, and most important, the central role of rural men and women, young people, indigenous populations and other groups to unleash that potential.

This publication is titled “Learning from Catalyst of Rural Transformation”, and can be read and downloaded directly from the ILO website here. The report about the Palestine Fair Trade Association, Occupied Palestinian Territory is chapter 6.

See and download publication here.