Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ADEL, Palestine’s Fair Trade initiative

At the Beit Jala Saturday market with Eric Shehadeh
An organic Farmers’ Market in Beit Jala? With produce in Palestine grown locally and of such good taste and quality, it was quite a pleasant surprise to find out one takes place every Saturday in the Occupied West Bank city.

It is organized by the National Fair Trade Non-Profit Corporation “ADEL,” established in 2011. What better name than adel, which means fair in Arabic.

Although quite small in Beit Jala, it is bigger in Ramallah where it is held on Tuesdays.

Everyone in the Occupied Territories tries, as much as possible, to buy Palestinian or at least non-Israeli products. The ADEL market guarantees that.

Cucumbers, tomatoes, white cheese and olives from the market
Pickling organic cucumbers
Nablus soap

The most delicious raisins
On the two occasions we were able to visit the ADEL market in Beit Jala, we bought tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, parsley, bottled juices, mouloukhia and many other things that were all excellent. I am using the Nablus soap bar I got back with me and still regret not stocking up on raisins. They were so big and delicious.

ADEL Fair Trade is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that Catholic Relief Services (CRS Fair Trade) helped establish in Palestine to help vulnerable women and disadvantaged farmers produce healthy products at a fair price.

The ADEL market in Ramallah
While ADEL received CRS support over two years, it is now a self-sufficient Fair Trade business supporting its workers from the money generated from the sale of its products.

ADEL runs an Empowerment and Rehabilitation Program to build the producers’ capacities, empower them technically, administratively and financially and rehabilitate production centers, committed to general health conditions and food safety principles.

Palestinian ladies preparing Ma'amoul for the Goods Home Delivery Program
Its other programs are the Goods Home Delivery Program (for Ma’amoul, cheese, olive oil and grapes), the Support Local Products and Enjoy Healthy Life Program and the Occupation Products Boycott Program.

Apart from generating long-term income for marginalized families and tens of cooperatives, ADEL has been successful in providing a Palestinian replacement for Israeli strawberries and mushrooms, among other products. It is also building groups of Fair Trade ambassadors under Occupation.

ADEL encourages the purchase in Palestinian produce instead of Israeli products as per the global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. Initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 and coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) established in 2007, BDS is a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.

Success story

Dina al-Sharif at her exhibition in Ramalla
Dina al-Sharif, from a small village north of Nablus, is an example of ADEL’s success stories. She is one of the leading and creative disadvantaged producers who are working to increase their income and independence.

Dina, who is wheelchair-bound, was struggling to meet her basic needs. She felt marginalized and undervalued because she took longer to finish her knitting products. For example, she needed 10 days at a rate of eight hours a day to produce a wool jacket or quilt only to finally sell it at a low and unfair price.

Through ADEL, Dina received training in quality, packaging and transportation of her products. She is now one of the leading producers.

She received an incentive grant of $1,000 to buy a sewing machine and raw materials to improve her production and market her products at a fair price so as to meet her basic family and personal needs.

In March 2013, ADEL held the “First Solidarity Exhibition” in corporation with the Technical College for Girls in Ramallah dedicated to Dina’s handmade products. The exhibition was great success. She made more than $300 and got more exposure for her work.