(Picture: Delegates were invited to wear the traditional dress of Palestine)
By Carol Wills
In early May 2018, Elizabeth Laskar and I joined the first ever Fair Trade Tour of Palestine, culminating in the celebration of World Fair Trade Day at the University of Bethlehem Fair Trade Resource Centre on Saturday 12 May.
We saw how Fair Trade enterprises support Palestinian traditional culture, preserve traditional crafts and provide thousands of farmers and other producers, many of them women working from home, with a much needed income and with hope that a better life is possible.
Our tour took place in the West Bank (also known as the Occupied Territories) where Palestinian Fair Trade producers live and work in extremely difficult circumstances under a military occupation that has gone on for over 50 years. Alongside our Fair Trade visits we heard many heart breaking stories of people who had lost loved ones and suffered injustices. On top of this, the economic situation is harsh and unemployment is high.
Nevertheless, we were made hugely welcome wherever we went, drinking little cups of mint tea and very strong black coffee and eating enormous quantities of local couscous, hummus and tomato, cucumber and mint salad. Our tour started at Canaan Fair Trade which produces the olive oil sold by Zaytoun and where we enjoyed an olive oil tasting before touring the impressive facility. It is a cooperative of more than 2000 olive farmers.
At the Palestinian Agricultural Research Centre in Jericho, a member of the WFTO, we saw how grapes are dried to produce Fair Trade sultanas and raisins and met a group of women rolling couscous by hand. The Women of Hebron Cooperative Association produces fine, traditional embroidery and backstrap loom woven wool carpets. Most women work from home but come to the Centre with their work, to attend meetings, take part in decision-making and have the chance to gossip. Men work at the Hebron glass and ceramic factory nearby, where Traidcraft places orders.
In Jerusalem we visited Sunbula Fair Trade, also a WFTO member, working to bring fresh designs and colour to traditional embroidery and providing an income to several thousand women. Sunbula means “spike of wheat” in Arabic (i.e. the flower that makes bread) and Sunbula’s mission is to provide its producers with the gift of a more dignified life.
Finally we reached Bethlehem and the Holyland Handicraft Cooperative Society where we saw some fine olive wood carving in their magnificent shop by the Field where the shepherds watched their flocks by night not far from the appalling wall where Banksy has his Walled Off Hotel.
On World Fair Trade Day we donned traditional Palestinian dress to celebrate at the University.
We came home convinced that if Palestinians are going to have any chance of a sustainable future at all, we must tell their stories and buy their products.
ZAYTOUN WINS GLOBAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING WORK WITH PALESTINIAN OLIVE FARMERS
We offer our congratulations to Zaytoun, producer of delicious fairtrade products, which has been awarded Global Trader 2016 by Fairtrade International . Manal Ramadan stated: “Fairtrade has transformed the lives of over 2,500 olive farming families, guaranteeing them the sale of their entire crop at a fair price. Our challenge now is to grow the demand for the olive oil to enable thousands more families to join the movement and reap the benefits of this sustainable ethical trade model.” There is an article on the Fairtrade Foundation website with more information.
Local Oxford fair trade shops (Fairtrade at St.Michaels and The Windmill) sell a wide range of Zaytoun products including olive oil, dates, almonds cous cous, za’atar and smoked freekah.
The Official Launch of the World Fair Trade Organisation Guarantee Label took place on 13th February at the “Ambiente” Trade Fair in Frankfurt.
“The WFTO Label – the first international label that guarantees Fair Trade Organisations operating in any part of the supply chain, from producers to retailers – has been unveiled. With this unique Fair Trade label, consumers will be able to identify products in the international marketplace that meet high economic, social and environmental sustainability criteria. Fair Trade Organisations are fully committed to sustainable production and trade.”
For more information go to http://wfto.com
Visit your local fair trade shops to buy products from WFTO Organisation Guarantee artisans:
Fairtrade at St. Michaels http://www.fairtradeatstmichaels.co.uk
The Windmill http://www.headingtonfairtrade.org.uk
Monday 27th February to Sunday 11th March 2012.
This year the Fairtrade Foundation is asking everyone to Take a Step for Fairtrade: “It can be a simple step like swapping your tea to Fairtrade, or a bigger step, like asking everyone in your office to do it too.” For more information, visit www.step.fairtrade.org.uk
Take your next step for Fairtrade in Oxford:
Oxford Fairtrade Fortnight 2012 Newspaper
Oxford Fairtrade Coalition is compiling a special edition Newspaper to celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight 2012. It will contain articles about Fairtrade issues, a two page pullout map – courtesy of Daily Info – showing where you can buy Fairtrade products in Oxford, and a calendar of all the thrilling Fairtrade events that are taking place during the Fortnight. These include film screenings, producer fairs, discussions about the ethics and impact of Fairtrade, tasting sessions and lots more. Look out for you copy of Oxford Fairtrade News which will be widely circulated in Oxford shops, churches, libraries and community centres mid-February. Or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy or if you can offer to display it in your workplace or social venue.
In the meantime, here’s a list of all the places you can buy Fairtrade in Oxford:
For the latest information on fair trade and Oxford’s Fairtrade Fortnight 2012 activities, quotes, photo opportunities etc, please contact Sabita Banerji at email@example.com or call 07773949787.
The Fairtrade Foundation have been in touch and Oxford will be officially renewed as a Fairtrade City on the 23rd February 2009 – right at the start of Fairtrade Fortnight!
We put in our application just before Christmas, and earlier this week heard that the Fairtrade Foundation were delighted with our progress since first gaining Fairtrade City Status in 2004.
We will be celebrating with a special reception at Oxford Town Hall on the 23rd February, where Harriet Lamb from the Fairtrade Foundation will present us with our re-certification. If you’ve been involved in making Oxford a Fairtrade City, as a campaigner, a community group or a local business we would love you invite you along. Drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get an invite winging it’s way to you