Mohammad Irsheid comes from a farming family in Siir, a beautiful small village located about 18km south of Jenin with a population of only 1000 people.
Mohammad and his family own 300 dunums (300 sq. km) of olive groves which produce up to 9 tonnes of olive oil in a good harvest and 180 dunums (180 sq. km) of almond groves that yield 15 tonnes of almonds per year. This produce is sold through the Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA) to Canaan Fair Trade who in turn sell it to fair trade organisations, such as Zaytoun, worldwide.
The benefits of fair trade
The price of olive oil was 10 shekels per kg (£1.70) in 2006 and after Siir cooperative joined PFTA that year they were able to command a price of 18 shekels (£3.06) per kg which has made a huge difference for full-time farmers like Mohammad and his family.
In addition to the fair trade price, Siir coop also receive a Fairtrade premium which this year will go towards building a public bathroom and a large storage room for the village.
When asked whether fair trade benefitted 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.In short, Fairtrade made farming viable for us as Palestinian farmers.Mohammed Irsheid