Saturday, 2 November 2013
Canaan Fair Trade
This is a place we had wanted to visit quite as much as any of the pilgrim sites because the olive oil we buy at home via Traidcraft (among other things) comes from here. Both the application of Fair Trade principles and the advantages of scale in working cooperatively are for the benefit of the farmers.
And these are farmers in the northern part of the Israeli occupied West Bank who face additional problems growing and harvesting their crops often in the face of concerted efforts by Israeli colonies which continue to be established in their neighbourhoods. The problems with growth revolve particularly around the sharp differential in the rate at which water is made available for agriculture involving Palestinian farmers as against Israeli settlers. The problems with harvesting sometimes revolve around active prevention methods by these new Israeli neighbours under the protection of its armed forces.
They are at least able to depend on Canaan itself to face the challenges of getting their produce to market. For example, its produce has to pass through a check-point in the Israeli wall (the designated check-point is not the nearest one) at which everything has to be unloaded and the loaded on to a different lorry on the other side.
Here the best ('extra virgin') olive oil is being stored below ground at low temperature. We were given a guided tour there yesterday as part of their annual festival day.
Here is a labelling machine in action. Travelling round the norther part of the West Bank for the first time brought home just how extensive the pattern of Israeli settlement is, how close many settlements are to existing villages, and the ways, for example, roads have sometimes been blocked off to make protection of these new communities easier but making normal patterns of Palestinian life more difficult.