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 in Europe and Palestinian date and olive oil suppliers, Zaytoun have come together to ask Muslims 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 provides a market alternative, as farmers face a domestic market, which has been flooded with cheap imports making agricultural viability difficult.
Fee Gilfeather, Head of Marketing for Trading at Oxfam said: "It is crucial that we give a fair deal to farmers in developing countries on whom we rely for our everyday products. By buying Zaytoun Fair Trade dates from Oxfam shops this Ramadan; you will get a good quality date and show your support for the Palestinian farmers that grew them."
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 territories.
"We need to help farmers gain access to markets. Without this, farmers will lose faith in the future of farming in Palestine", said Zuhair Manasreh, a Zaytoun date supplier in Palestine.
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. Ethical eating this Ramadan and beyond can help ensure that our food is both halal (permissible) and tayyib (good and pure)."
Zaytoun Fair Trade dates are available from the Oxfam online shop.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Joanna Humphreys, Oxfam press office on:
+44(0)1865 47 2334 / firstname.lastname@example.org / +44(0)7966456336
INTERVIEWEE AVAILABLE: Maisa Manasreh is the Marketing & Public Relations Representative at Al Nakheel Company for Palestinian Date Farming, the largest Palestinian agricultural development project in the occupied Palestinian territory. She is fluent in English and Arabic and speaks German and Hebrew.
Notes to editors:
- Zaytoun's supplier Madico has 12,000 date trees spread across 3,000 dunums (3 sq. km) of land in the Jordan Valley, the company is two-years old and expects to produce 400-600 tons of Mejdoul dates in 2012, providing global consumers with an alternative to the settlement dates that flood their markets.
- Zaytoun imports and distributes Palestinian products exclusively - an average of 70 tonnes of Palestinian agricultural produce is distributed via Zaytoun in the UK.
- Zaytoun was the first company to succeed in putting Palestinian products on to the shelves of major retailers in the UK.
- MADE in Europe is a UK-based NGO which aims to mobilise Muslim communities to take a leading role in the fight against global poverty through campaigning, volunteering and education.
- Zaytoun sells direct to a number of retail outlets throughout the UK, including Oxfam. Use the Oxfam Shop Finder to find the nearest outlet.