Devon Fairtrade bid to boost Palestine

FAIRTRADE supporters around Devon will launch a project this month to boost the Fairtrade movement in Palestine.

FAIRTRADE supporters around Devon will launch a project this month to boost the Fairtrade movement in Palestine. Organisers of "Olives for Hope" hope to build a friendship link with the West Bank village of Deir Istya, where farmers have recently started to benefit from the sale of their organic olive oil through Zaytoun, the first Fairtrade-registered olive oil wholesaler in the UK.

The project, coordinated by the local education organisation Devon Development Education, builds on the recent visit of Riziq Abu Nasser, a Fairtrade Palestinian olive farmer from Deir Istya. Riziq visited Devon during Fairtrade Fortnight in March/April 2009 and gave over forty talks around the county. He highlighted the ways in which his community has benefited from the sale of oil through Fairtrade, which guarantees producers a fair deal as they export their produce to the UK.

Riziq said, "The people of Deir Istya face a long list of problems, including the destruction of our olive groves. I hope that this project will enable the farmers of Deir Istya to increase their production, improve the use of what remains of their land, and strengthen the bonds of friendship between the people of Britain and Palestine."

Olives for Hope will raise awareness about Fairtrade in Palestine as well as gathering sponsorship money to plant new olive groves around Deir Istya. It will be launched at a series of events around Devon on 16th June in Brixham, 18th June in Barnstaple and on 19th June in Exeter.

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Olives for Hope has been endorsed by Carol Drinkwater, who starred in the 1980s TV drama All Creatures Great and Small and has since written several books about olives.

"If this project can support Palestinian farmers and give them an opportunity to sell their fruits and the oil they have farmed for centuries, it will have helped give them back dignity and a means towards earning their own livelihoods," she said.

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