AS PART of its celebration of Fairtrade Fortnight, Fair Trade Stirling and Stirling Council have taken part in the UK tour for two Fairtrade producers. The tour is organised by Zaytoun, a British Community Interest Company which develops UK trade links for Palestinian fair trade producers.

The meeting last Tuesday at Stirling Methodist Church was well attended and heard of the first-hand experience of Khader Khader, a farmer and producer of olive oil. Khader is also a Board Member of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association. As a young man, Khader struggled to make a living from agriculture and for 10 years he worked in a plastics factory in Israel.

“I worked at night and slept during the day. I’d stay away for one to three months to earn money to bring home. It was something we had to do because the borders could close any time, and then nobody can leave or enter. I worked at the plastics factory for years, but once I got married I couldn’t leave my young family for so long.”

He returned to cultivating olive trees but got very little money. Now, Fairtrade is bringing Khader and his family and community a reasonable income. Khader explained the importance to him of working close to home “My village is also my family”

Khader was joined by Taysir Arbasi, Zaytoun’s Director in Palestine. Taysir is active in the support of farmers in the Jordan valley, working on enabling their access to basic services including water, and supporting their income generation through advocacy and development projects. Zaytoun (Arabic for ‘olives’) is this year celebrating ten years of Fairtrade certification for its oil. Taysir added to Khader’s comments: “We are completing the circle, joining the producer family with the consumer family to make a greater family.” Asked what we can do in Stirling, Taysir’s response was “Help make the circle bigger – reach out to others.” He went on to talk about plans for increased organic production.

The meeting was chaired by Alasdair Tollemache, Fairtrade Councillor for Stirling who said: “I was delighted to welcome Zaytoun to Stirling to talk about their Fairtrade trade association in Palestine. They described how 1500 Palestinian farmers have joined the group and vividly talked about the challenges that exist in farming under occupation. They have succeeded in growing their Fairtrade produce despite this. We heard what we can do in Stirling to support them. This meeting was part of Fairtrade fortnight and I would encourage the support of Fairtrade products “

Jon Cape of Fair Trade Stirling said: ”Several of the churches in Stirling, including Stirling Methodists, stock Zaytoun products and you can view online stockists at”