- Published on Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:04
Muslim families can make a huge difference to impoverished communities in the occupied Palestinian territory this Ramadan by buying fair trade dates grown by Palestinian farmers.
Oxfam, MADE (Muslim Agency for Development and Enterprise,) Al Nakheel Palestine for Agricultural Investment and Palestinian date and olive oil suppliers, Zaytoun, have come together to ask people to buy ethically-sourced dates when they shop for their iftar ingredients.
With the challenges facing the Palestinian rural economy, due to Israeli government restrictions, Medjoul dates have become an important source of income for Palestinians.
Nasr, a Palestinian date farmer in the Jordan valley, told Oxfam: "in this desert, they call it yellow gold. We will continue growing it and expanding our farm. This is our last resort to sustain our way of life as farmers."
"We are asking consumers to think about the farmers who grow the dates that they are eating to break their fast. We want them to make a conscious choice to choose ethically sourced products," said Manal Ramadan, Director of Zaytoun.
Across the world this Ramadan, as sunset falls, dates are consumed to break the fast. Whether eaten in baklava in North Africa, snacked on by taxi-drivers in Dubai or shared by families in London, dates are a vital part of the Iftar meal. Whilst they are popular in many Muslim homes at this time of year, they are a vital source of income for the Palestinian farmers who grow them all year round.
Supporting fair trade in Palestine helps farmers keep their land, as land that is not used for 3 years or more can be confiscated by the government of Israel. Fair trade also provides a market alternative, as Palestinian farmers face a domestic market that has been flooded with cheap imports and heavy restrictions imposed by the government of Israel that make export outside of fair trade channels unprofitable.
Willow Heske, a spokesperson for Oxfam said: "It is crucial that we give a fair deal to Palestinian farmers, many of whom are directly affected by restrictions related to Israeli settlement expansion and cannot access the land and water they need to pull themselves out of poverty. By buying Palestinian fair trade dates this Ramadan, you will get a good quality date and show your support for the Palestinian farmers that grew them."
Barriers to export mean that Palestinians in the Jordan Valley are mainly dependent on the income they get from selling their produce in local markets. Their ability to earn enough money to live on is directly affected by the restrictions on movement of goods and people across the occupied territory.
"We need to help farmers gain access to both local and international markets. Without this, farmers will lose faith in the future of farming in Palestine", said Zuhair Manasreh, founding partner and Chief Executive Officer of Al Nakheel Palestine for Agricultural Development.
Oussama Mezoui, Campaigns Manager of MADE in Europe, said "Trade justice is an important principle in Islam. We live in an economically unjust world where producers of our food do not earn the income they are due. As Muslims we have a responsibility to ensure we are not consuming products that contribute towards this injustice."