(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.
JOIN THE OXFORD FAIR TRADE COALITION
What? Don’t Ditch Fairtrade demonstration
Where? Outside Sainsbury’s, opposite Town Hall, St. Aldate’s, Oxford
When? 1.00 – 1.30 pm Saturday 28 October 2017
Why? Sainsbury’s is dropping Fairtrade certification in favour of its own in-house scheme. They are starting with tea. Other products are expected to follow. Let’s protest. Bring your own placards or banners
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
Saturday 22nd October from 6-8pm at The Friends Meeting House, 43 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LW
Just Change tea grown by a tribal co-operative in Gudalur, in the Nilgiri Hills, South India, has been available in Oxford for some time. Now we are delighted to announce the arrival of Just Change Spices – including cardamom, chilli powder, turmeric, peppercorns, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves plus ground ginger.
There will be a cookery demonstration to give you some ideas about how to use the spices in curries, masala chai and hot mulled apple juice – which you are welcome to taste. Gift baskets and loose packs of individual spices – as well as tea – will be available to buy, at a fair price for the producers and for you.
Dr Alex Nicholls MBA, lecturer social entrepreneurship at University of Oxford’s Said Business School, will discuss the benefits and challenges of the revolutionary Just Change trading system. Dr Nicholls is co-author of a major research book on Fair Trade (with Charlotte Opal, Sage, 2005) and the editor of a collection of key papers on social entrepreneurship (Oxford University Press, 2008).
A word from the producers:
“Here in Gudalur, putting together the JCUK spices pack was fun and exciting, as this time we were able to purchase our goods directly from producers! Peppercorns, cardamom and of course, tea, are from our members in Gudalur. Chillies and coriander are from our partner, Aharam, whose farmers are around Madurai, in Tamilnadu. Turmeric is from Organic farmers in the Sittilingi Valley of Tamilnadu. All these were processed into powders by women members of BVM branch of the Just Change Company in Kerala. The adivasi soap unit, in Gudalur, took a few days off soap making, to pack and parcel the spices to send to JCUK. We are glad that they were a runaway success, and look forward to sending you more spices next year! We have sourced some handmade baskets as well!” For more information see www.justchangeuk.org
Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment. To book email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07773 949 787