The Agricultural Sector Current Reality The Palestinian agricultural sector occupies at least %15 of the total labor force in Palestine. The Palestinian agricultural sector direct and indirect losses till 2007 are estimated as 1.5 billion USD. The Agricultural sector losses during the last war against Gaza 2009 are estimated by 180 Million USD The Palestinian agriculture contribution in the gross domestic produce (GDP) by 7%. The Palestinian Agricultural sector occupies more than 35% of the female work force.
The Palestinian Farmers Union • PFU was established in 1993. Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU) is a non governmental organisation aimed to provide technical and organisational assistance, help and support to the Palestinian Farmers. One of its main objectives is to enable the farmers’ organisations to defend their rights and benefits. Since its creation in 1993, the PFU has implemented several programs of development in different sectors (Olive oil, micro credit, collective purchasing, health insurance …) to strengthen the economic development of the Palestinian agricultural sector and to provide services to the Palestinian rural populations facing economic, social and financial difficulties.
PFU has been established in 1993 under the umbrella of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC) with which it has always kept very close and fruitful relations. However, nowadays it is time for the PFU to reach its autonomy considering its strategic objectives, its financial situation and its technical capacities. This is the reason why PFU wishes and needs to employ new collaborators in order to complete and reinforce its technical team as well as to support its institutional development. PFU is always looking to work and to develop relationships with other Arabic and international organisations and to develop strong partnerships with them in order to build efficient networks ensuring a sustainable and coherent development of the Palestinian rural and agricultural society
Vision: PFU is looking to become Palestinian framers framework and representative, to reach with them a stage where they become able to defend their rights and benefits and to share actively in the national development at an independent democratic state.
Strategic Objectives: • To raise farmers' general awareness regarding their benefits and economical, social and political rights. • 2. To activate affecting sides' role in farmers' issues and problems. • 3. To build organizations able to lead farmers towards their benefits and rights. • 4. To work on the Continuity of Palestinian Farmers Union.
PFU Programs • PFU depends in its work on two categories of programs, which are: • 1. Syndicate work, capacity building, farmers’ organization and lobbying and advocacy, as these programs works on extending PFU public work cycle, and give PFU legality as a representative framework representing farmers benefits and defending their rights, the most important of these programs are: • Capacity-Building and highlighting organizations and assemblies Program (organizational, administrative and technical) • Lobbying, Advocacy and farmers rights Program. • Voluntary Work Program. • Health Service Program. • Recovering the Value added Tax Program. • Market Protection Program.
During the last four years, PFU developed its work through building partnership bridges with a range of Governmental, Nongovernmental organizations and the private sector to reach PFU objectives to achieve support and assistance for the Palestinian farmers. Through this partnership PFU was able to clarify its programs in a better way and to communicate regularly with farmers, it works in specialization through its partnership with a group of academic and technical organizations and the private sector, and other specialized organizations, which work intersects with PFU work in a complementary way and not in a competitive way.
2. Developmental and economical Programs aim at improving the Palestinian farmers living Standards through developing production infrastructure, developing farmers technical capacities to access high quality production and higher percentage of production quantities through using the same production resources with taking into consideration environment preservation from pollution, the most important of these programs are: Microcredit program. Collective Purchase and Marketing Program. Olive Oil Producers Capacities Development Program. Water and Environment Program.
PFU in its work based on three basic axes to assist farmers to improve their living conditions and to obtain their legitimate rights through the following: * The Organization of Farmers: PFU succeed in organizing farmers in farmers associations at the provincial level (16 members associations), and organizing farmers in production specialized cooperatives or assemblies at the village level or sites (78 farmers cooperatives), so all capacity-building, lobbying and advocacy and farmers rights activities carried out to farmers through farmers associations in the provinces and the economic technical activities implemented through specialized cooperatives.
Capacity-building, lobbying and advocacy: PFU succeed in building models of farmers leaders through Building their capacities in several areas, Also PFU succeed to put pressure on legislative bodies and officials of the Palestinian Authority to change some of the items in the Special Agriculture law to become supportive for farmers and not vice versa. • Capacity-building and economic productivity of farmers: PFU played a major role in building farmers economic and technical capacities, e.g. PFU work on developing the quality of Palestinian Olive Oil to compete with many oils at the global level by its quality and with fair prices for the Palestinian farmers.
Capacity-Building Program • PFU works on strengthening staff and volunteers, farmers and farmers organizations capacities to reach efficient and effective results and to increase the work quality. • The program Philosophy: • Better understanding for changing motivations. • To gather all available capabilities in all stages. • To follow collective methodology in change
Lobbying , Advocacy and Media Program • As PFU believes in the Palestinian own huge capabilities, so it gives this program a special attention • Consolidate farmer confidence in achieving a change. • Gathering and collecting Farmers cooperatives and Associations Capabilities. • Building organized campaigns regarding farmers benefits. • Continuous Awareness through media especially (Farmers Voice).
The Value Added Tax program It is considered as one of the oldest programs for PFU, it came as an initiative from Jericho Branch. The program core is to benefit from tax law which allow to gain the taxes added on agricultural inputs. PFU currently is getting ready to start the struggle to adjust the law to include Animal productions. Note: the recovering Value means the real feasibility amount in the Palestinian Agriculture after the raise of production expenses as a result of natural and political disasters and marketing limitations.
fighting agricultural adulterated production requirements program As a result for the escalating of adulterated agricultural production requirements and others nonscientific qualifications and as a result for the limited control over these necessities, PFU tended to build this program, which protects farmers, it has achieved impressive results including (the largest recovery process in the history of the Palestinian agriculture for palm dates producers in Jordan Valley).
Health Service program Farmers marginalization reality in different areas of life reflected the need for health services program for the farmer and his family, where PFU signed a number of health collective agreements with the PNA and the private sector. Such agreements operate to reduce the costs of medical treatments and in some cases to free, this program is distinguished by its proliferation in the majority of the country districts and providing a good level of health services.
Saving and Credit Program On the basis of self-reliance and to culminate understanding of the triangle of primary production in the agricultural represented by funding, the purchase of supplies and marketing. The idea of establishing savings and credit funds through cooperative associations came, in order to ensure the financial liquidity for their members to start production process, in the light of the lack of agricultural lending bank and banks reluctance from offering special lending to agriculture and the high interest imposed by the Palestinian lending institutions. Marketing Finance Provisionproductioninputs
Collective Marketing and Purchase Program This program aims to stimulate and support small farmers in the field of marketing their agricultural products at the local and international levels through networking them with public commerce institutions and the private sector specialized in marketing the agricultural products. The objectives are also to reinforce the administrative and technical capacities of farmers in order to develop a high quality of agricultural products commensurate with the specifications and standards recognized locally and internationally. The idea is also to improve the competence of Palestinian goods available on the markets with respect of quality that will benefit financially to the farmers.
Through this program, the farmers will be able to secure their needs with the lowest prices and the best specifications. This will reduce the production cost and improve its quality, and ultimately will increase the ability of the national products to compete in local and foreign markets.
Olive oil program The olive oil sector is considered as the most important sector of the Palestinian agriculture. Not only are olives the single biggest crop in what remains a largely agricultural economy, but they have deep cultural significance as a symbol of traditional societies and ties to the land. It is estimated that olive trees account for nearly 45% of cultivated land in Palestine and in good years it can contribute as much as 15-19% of agricultural output. Given that agricultural account for nearly 25 % of GDP, olives and olive oil are important elements of the Palestinian economy and estimates suggest that about 100,000 families depend to some extent upon the olive harvest for their livelihoods.
PFU has developed an important olive oil program since 2003 which is now one of the most important programs of the union. The crisis faced by the Palestinian olive oil sector has seriously affected the economic and social fabrics of the Palestinian rural population. Indeed, between 2000 and 2004, the prices of the olive oil liter decrease from 20 NIS to 8 NIS which has led to a loose of incomes for a majority of Palestinian agricultural families. PFU with the participation of olive oil producers and cooperatives started to act in order to find collective answers to the economic problems but, above all, in order to build a sustainable program which provides technical assistance, organizational strategy and economic capacities to the whole sector (from the production to the commercialization). The bases of the program are the producers organized in olive oil cooperatives which are not only the beneficiaries but also the main actors of the program.
The program started with the participation of 4 cooperatives in 2003. Nowadays, PFU olive oil department works with more than 30 cooperatives providing trainings, technical assistance and capacity building to the PFU cooperative network. Moreover, PFU works with other Palestinian organizations in order to reinforce the whole sector and to create strong synergies and partnerships between the Palestinian olive oil actors. One of the main achievements was
Water and Environment Program As the famous sentence say “there is someone on this earth who deserves to live”. In other words, life won’t be without water and appropriate environment for human life. In harmony with PFU ambition to cope with the universe culture around water and environment, the union designed this program to improve the exploitation of Palestinian available waters and helps to raise Palestinian environmental awareness to preserve it. The water is a core issue in Palestine and important changes need to be implemented in order to protect the land and the next Palestinian generation. The water and environment program is a new program in PFU and it is a transversal one as the water and environmental issues concern all the agricultural sectors and major aspects of the rural life.
Observation committee PFU board of Directors Observation committee President PFU executive office PFU Chairman Farmers Association Assembly (Regional level) Regional Observation committee Regional Association Board Regional Observation committee President Regional Association executive office Regional Association Chairman Organizational chart PFU General Assembly
Palestinian Farmers Union Administrative Chart General Assembly Financial Consultant Board of Directors PFU executive office Quality Consultant Executive Director Financial & Administrative Dep. Public and Voluntary work Dep. Capacity Building and Branches Dep. Relation and Project Dep. Project Implementation Sec. Voluntary work Pro. Capacity building Pro. Accounting section Relation & Info. Sec. Farmers rights and Lobbying and Advocacy Pro. Health services Pro. Save & Credit Pro Human resources section VAT recovery Pro. Media Sec Collective M & P Market protection Pro. Olive oil Water & Envi.
PFU Membership • The agricultural Coordination Committee (Gov. and NGO’s). • The International Federation for Agricultural Producers (IFAP). • National Palestinian NGO’s network (PNGO). • National Palestinian Environmental institutions Network. • The National Resistance Committee against the Apartheid Wall (PENGON). • Al-Mersad for boycotting the Israeli settlements. • French- Palestinian solidarity associations Agricultural programs coordinator. • Member of the steering Committee of the Mediterranean European Partnership Project of Water (MEDWA). • One of the founders of SHAMA Network. • One of the founders of the Supreme Coordinating Committee for Palestinian Agricultural unions and councils.
Objectives To raise farmers‘ general awareness regarding their benefits and economical, social and political rights. To activate affecting sides' role in farmers' issues and problems. To build organizations able to lead farmers towards their benefits and rights. Lobbying and Advocacy To work on the Continuity of PFU. Adulterated Supplies Value Added Tax Collective Marketing Health Service • microfinane Water and Environment Collective Purchasing Capacity Building
PFU Achievements PFU during the previous four years could achieve the following: • Improving the productivity of more than 35 olive oil cooperatives. Through changing their agricultural practices, mentality and organization. • the elaboration of the Palestinian Olive Oil Quality Chart in partnership with the Palestinian Standard Institution (PSI) and the cooperatives. • The establishment of saving and credit funds in more than 15 farmers cooperatives. • The establishment of more than 50 specialized cooperatives.
Promoting organic production among farmers. • Implementing awareness campaigns regarding the value added taxes and the procedures to recover VAT . The number of recovered filed were 408 and the amounts of recovered files reached 22 million NIS. • Since 1995 PFU made pressure over the Palestinian National Authority, to recover the value added tax on livestock production, by sending letters to the Ministers Council, the president, the ministry of Agriculture and Finance, and the districts governors. The outcomes of these activities appeared in 2008, as the Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad issued a decree to recover the value added tax on livestock production. It was a great victory for farmers, according to the ministry of Agriculture estimations this law will recover about 60 millions NIS for livestock breeders.
The provision of food aid to more than 7 thousands poor households in Gaza Strip, in addition to help Gazan farmers in marketing their products.
Strength points • Elected leadership and organized democratic life. • Volunteers Believe in PFU Mission. • Qualified and experienced in the work field staff . • An organization with independent identity and operate within clear Strategies and structures and administrative and financial systems. • distinctive programs help in achieving the Goals. • farmers and cooperatives confidence in PFU.
Vulnerability Elements affects PFU work • The Weakness of the member associations (branches). • 1. Strategic Planning. • Lack of a qualified team. • lack of branches offices in all areas. • Lack of supporting services (logistics) in these offices. • Fluctuation of membership in PFU. • Weakness of Gaza Strip branch (geographical dimension and political constraints). • Lack of financial stability ( Funding organization directed towards supporting emergency and humanitarian assistance projects). • The absence of studies, research and database Department.
Available Opportunities • * The objective need for organizing Farmers (The withdrawal of the Agricultural production.) • Partnership with Partner Organizations (PARC, ACAD, Hydrogenate Group, Food Processing Committee.) • PFU presence in SHAMA’ Leadership (Agricultural Work Organizations Network) . • The readiness of some organization to support olive and saving and credit programs (the French Consulate, Palestinian- French Solidarity Associations, Swiss Cooperation and Welfare…etc.) • To Raise a Palestinian Cooperative Movement (Active and effective Cooperatives).
Threatening • * Farmers’ continuous withdrawal from the Agricultural Sector. • The Islamic Inheritance Law. • Political and Tribal fighting. • The lack of a national strategy considers the agricultural sector on the top of the Palestinian National Authority priorities. • Bureaucracy in registering farmers Associations. • the lack of deciding a new Palestinian Cooperation Law (the Jordanian Law For the Year 1956). • Connecting Funding with political conditions that contradicts with the NGOs Law for the year (2000)