Zaytoun was founded in 2004 to support the resilience and livelihoods of Palestinian farmers under occupation through fairly trading their olive oil. Zaytoun was initially funded by hundreds of customers who put up payment in advance of receiving their oil, through this they were able to establish themselves as a UK social enterprise.
Since its beginnings, Zaytoun has continued to evolve and develop and by receiving funding from Triodos Bank they now offer a wide range of Palestinian artisan foods and supported Palestinian farmers to pioneer the world’s first Fairtrade certified olive oil in 2009, sold through the UK market.
Zaytoun also run two trips a year for customers to visit Palestine and learn more about life for a farming family there and bring producers to the UK once a year for Fairtrade Fortnight.
Read just some of the stories of their amazing producers here:
Mohammad Irsheid, Siir Village, Palestine (Siir has been part of the Palestine fair Trade Association since 2006)
Mohammad is the youngest of 9 children from a farming family. Their family owns 300 dunums of olive groves which produce up to 9 tons of olive oil in a good harvest and 180 dunums of almond groves that yield 15 tons of almonds per year.
The food produced by Mohammad’s family farm is sold through the Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA) to Canaan Fair Trade who sell it to fair trade organisations worldwide. This has made a huge difference to Mohammad and his family who are full time farmers.
Additionally, the cooperative also receive a Fairtrade premium which will go towards such things as building a public bathroom and a large storage room for the village.
When asked about what difference fair trade has made to his family Mohammad said:
“Fairtrade has had a big impact on my life in all sorts of ways. First of all, I started receiving higher prices, and that made a huge difference to our family’s farming income, about 20,000 shekels (£3,400) difference per year. I stopped worrying about searching for local traders that would take my olive oil with conditions and at low prices. Now it all goes to one buyer and we get paid during the harvest instead of waiting months to sell all our produce. We are now our own masters.”
Bassema Barahmen, Anza Village, Palestine
Bassema has 10 dunums of olive trees which produce around 300 liters of oil in a good year. Bassema sells some to Canaan and then keeps the rest for her family.
She is a farmer, board member of PFTA, a village council member and a mother of four! Her capacity for hard work is matched by her passion for empowering women. Fair trade has had a huge impact on Bassema and her cooperative as it helps offer financial security and sustainable work.
Additionally, Bassema has used Fairtrade premiums to buy materials and tools for harvesting.
The Anza cooperative is famous for being a village that values the education of young girls and women. The women cooperative is one of the most active in the area and Bassema is their current coordinator. The women produce and sell two to three tons of maftoul to Canaan annually.
“As a Palestinian woman, I transfer these traditions to the next generation of women in order to preserve Palestinian culture and connect them with their heritage, and also to offer them the chance to be future leaders in the community”.
Mohammed Hamada, Burquin Village, Palestine
Mohammed is a father of seven who was born and brought up in the beautiful ancient village of Burquin. He is a full time farmer, working 15 dunums of land inherited from his ancestors in addition to 21 dunums recently bought and planted with olive trees.
He was one of the first farmers to register with PFTA when it was established in 2004. Mohammed sells an average of 3 tonnes of organic fairtrade olive oil each year.
The Fairtrade premiums has supported his community in many ways:
- It has helped supply tools and equipment for farmers in his cooperative
- Invested in a newly built school village
- New paved playground
- New desks
- Mohammed is able to pay his children’s school and university fees
- He can invest any surplus into expanding his crops and caring better for his trees.
Zaytoun take great care for everyone in their supply chains and truly help to provide a sustainable income for Palestinian farmers and their families.