Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 focuses on responsible consumption, an issue that’s highlighted during Fairtrade Fortnight, another campaign run by the Fairtrade Foundation. Lisa Lee, Think Global’s Project Support Officer, recently attended an event and explores this topic further.
In February 2017 during Fairtrade Fortnight, Think Global were expecting Palestinian Fairtrade producers Bassema Barameh and Lamis Zamzam to take part in our Supply Change Speakers’ Tour, to share the challenges and benefits of Fair Trade social enterprises in schools and other organisations. A few days before we were meant to greet our esteemed guests, we received news from Zaytoun that both speakers were unable to join the tour because their visas were unexpectedly denied. Luckily, the director of Zaytoun in Palestine, Taysir Arabasi, was able to take their places and the tour went ahead as planned.
One year on, we were thrilled to hear Bassema’s visa was finally accepted so we took the opportunity to attend a Fairtrade Fortnight event to meet her and reunite with Taysir.
Bassema has supported different things related to production, constantly working towards better access to international markets. She explained why the olive tree and farming other indigenous products are such crucial components to social cohesion,
There is an annual harvest festival where the entire household, families and neighbours from everywhere, come together to take part for the whole month. 2 tonnes of za’atar is produced. The maftoul which Zaytoun produces is unique to Palestine. It is the result of a very long, tiring process but sourced to be served as delicious food. It benefits the women producers in the community, it contributes to our freedom and margin of exchange.”
But there are political challenges that force the producers to constantly adapt to,
It take 7 years for an olive tree to produce olives. Currently, 2 million trees (70%) have been destroyed by the Occupation. Checkpoints and curfew will differ every day. Shipments plus documents could stay at a port for weeks with no communication. This all adds to the cost and risk of the final product quality.”
Fairtrade producers like Bassema, Taysir and Lamis embody the importance of supporting fair trade social enterprises and cooperatives. Atif says,
[Zaytoun] is always searching for an audit trail and social justice connection. Before 2009, there wasn’t a precedent for Palestine to have Fair Trade mark on anything, let alone for a product to come out of the Occupation. It needed to be done and is a capacity building task.”
The cost of Fairtrade products is high due to certain Fairtrade criteria, the focus should not be on the price of the product but the lives of the people which the sale of the products benefit. Whenever Taysir shares his experience as a Fairtrade farmer, he wishes to send a clear message,
“We [Palestine] were never in poverty. It is a man-made political colonisation to facilitate the eviction and displacement of Palestinians. We will keep moving forward, determined to live a life with dignity.”
To purchase Fairtrade Zaytoun products, please visit the Ethical Superstore.
Blog by Lisa Lee, Project Support Officer.