Ruba Halaiqa is the quality manager at Nakheel Palestine, a Medjoul date producer in the Jordan Valley.
Since Ruba started at Nakheel in 2011, after a degree in Biology and Medical Technology she’s seen the international sales of Medjoul dates increase. With this growth, there have been opportunities for the company to create more value in their supply chain and offer employment to more farming families in the Jordan Valley.
These new job opportunities offer work in a safe and healthy environment and are an alternative to work in illegal Israeli settlements that was often the only option available when lands traditionally used for pasture and agriculture were confiscated. Settlement work was very poorly paid, and on casual contracts with no job security.
In contrast, the jobs created by the growth in local date production offer long-term prospects, engaging more women in rural areas and attracting investment that has rippled out to wider economic growth. This is important to those living in a region that is sorely affected by lack of access to water for irrigation due to the Israeli occupation, as well as severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods which make it difficult if not impossible to get products to local markets. These limitations create extra costs for marketing and exporting produce, so growth is essential for a company like Nakheel and the producers in its supply chain.
Ruba values the support of Zaytoun’s customers, and considers it important to speak about the obstacles each grower needs to overcome in order to get his dates to market.
Education is key to enable our international customers to understand what makes our dates so special, and the often-difficult journey that they take from tree to plate.Ruba Halaiqa
She was delighted to learn that the dates she helps produce won a UK Great Taste Award, a result of the hard work she and her team puts in to closely monitor the quality of the dates at every stage of their journey from the farm. “The award is a testimony that we are thankful for.”