EU and Swiss Development Cooperation together to boost Palestinian olive sector
The European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) held an event last week at the Ministry of Agriculture in Ramallah to highlight the start of a three-year programme supporting Palestinian olive farmers and the olive sector. The event was chaired by the Palestinian Minister of Agriculture Mr. Ahmed Majdalani, along with the implementing partners of the EU and SDC financed projects (namely Oxfam GB and the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees-PARC), key stakeholders in the olive oil sector and representatives of both national and international organizations.
The EU and the Swiss agency agreed to have a stronger coordination mechanism of their ongoing interventions supporting both farmers producing olives and olive oil and the institutional development of the Ministry of Agriculture in creating a sector business-conducive environment. Their joint programming approach will boost the effectiveness and efficiency of efforts to support the olive sector by reducing transaction-costs and improving complementarities and synergies and avoiding geographical and thematic overlapping. The outcomes of this coordination will be presented in the "Olive and Olive Oil Thematic Working Group" chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Swiss Development Cooperation and the European Union are key investors in the olive and olive-oil sector. Together with the on-going and programmed interventions for 2012 they are investing approximately €9.8 million or US$ 12.7 million. Currently, the SDC and EU are financing three projects implemented by PARC and Oxfam GB which together will target more than 70 olive oil cooperatives/groups with approximately 4000 members, of which around 300 are women, in addition to 17 women-only cooperatives specialized in olive and olive based products such as tapenade.
The projects are taking a market-based approach, looking across the olive market landscape to identify the rules, market players, and supporting functions that need to change to achieve large scale, sustainable change in the sector. It focuses on the underlying constraints that prevent the effective development of the olive market system to benefit poor people.
Through trainings on quality standards, distribution of equipment such as olive harvesting and cultivation tools and the development of cooperatives and producer organizations, the projects will support farmers to increase the quantity and improve the quality of their olive products. The projects will also help farmers in accessing local and international markets by strengthening the relation between local cooperatives/groups and national/ international buyers. In addition, it will empower the Palestinian Olive Oil council (POOC) to strengthen its national and international representation and to enhance coordination for the sector. The projects are in line with the ‘Palestinian Agriculture Sector Strategy’ and are built on the result of previous initiatives. (EU Neighbourhood Info)