American Consul General Michael Ratney participated in the tenth annual olive harvest festival in Jenin today where he visited with local farmers and met Canaan Fair Trade Olive Harvest Festival Director Nasser Abufarha.
For the third consecutive year, Consul General Ratney joined the annual event in Jenin. In addition to enjoying the traditional folkloric performances at the festival, Consul General Ratney took the opportunity to hear directly from the farmers who harvest their olive crops, which represent an important aspect of Palestinian livelihood and culture. He noted the positive impact that a growing private sector enterprise, such as Canaan Fair Trade, can have for the community, saying, "Canaan Fair Trade is an excellent example of a Palestinian business providing economic opportunities to an entire region."
Canaan Fair Trade was founded in 2004 by Palestinian-American Nasser Abufarha and is based in the West Bank city of Jenin. Canaan's products, which include organic fair trade olive oil, honey, tahini, couscous, and zaatar, are produced by over 1,700 Palestinian farmers in the West Bank who are organized in informal cooperatives and represented by the Palestine Fair Trade Association. The organization also maintains a scholarship program for the children of its farmers, annually awarding full-tuition scholarships for four students to attend universities in the West Bank.
Through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States has worked with Canaan Fair Trade to help Palestinian olive growers increase their yields and tap into a rapidly growing global market for organic, fair trade products.
Consul General Ratney noted that Palestinian food products can now be found on the shelves of gourmet food stores throughout the United States. "By connecting with international markets in the United States and elsewhere, Palestinian farmers near Jenin have increased their income while providing a quality product that brings part of the West Bank to consumers around the world," said Consul General Ratney.