Olive oil from Palestine is one of our longest-standing products, and one from a uniquely complicated country of origin.
We now sell up to 25,000 litres of Palestinian olive oil every year, but more impressive than this quantity is the work that goes into it. The ‘Olive Oil from Palestine’ campaign has been active for 20 years and purchases olive oil from over 500 farming families in the conflict zone.
We have supported the campaign since its inception. At the time, gebana founder Ursula Brunner was herself involved in their working group, because right from the start, their commitment aligned with ours: generating income for local populations, even in difficult regions.
Working Amid Walls and Roadblocks
And Palestine is certainly one of those difficult regions. The founding of the Zurich-based association was sparked by the second Intifada, which made living conditions extremely difficult for the Palestinian population. Among the founders were Palestinians and Jews who were affected by the situation and wanted to do something for the people in the area by starting local development projects.
For the Palestinian population, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East not only means life under occupation, it also hinders the work of local farmers. The construction of the wall between Israeli and Palestinian settlements destroyed thousands of olive trees and damaged the best areas for cultivation. The time and costs for transport of their products are high, as they are systematically held up by road blocks and security crossings.
With the sale of olive oil and Zaa’tar spice mix, the campaign may not be able to change the political deadlock, but it can provide targeted support to the local population and its economy by building infrastructure and investing in education.
6 million francs for local projects
The project was initially small in scale, with individual stalls in Switzerland. The response was great from the very beginning. "While the stand in front of Pestalozzi-Wiese on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich was being set up, the first customers were already waiting to buy these special products – and to show their solidarity for Palestine," says Ursula Hayek, who was there for the first sales campaigns.
Moreover, 23 tonnes of olive oil were ordered in the campaign’s anniversary year through sales in the gebana shop. By way of comparison, 9 tonnes were ordered the year it was founded. This increase benefits the farming families as well as the local population, because for every litre sold, 2 Swiss francs go to local projects.
With the solidarity contribution and additional donations, the campaign has already implemented the local conversion to organic olive cultivation with the help of local farmers' cooperatives. In addition, it was able to install solar systems in South Hebron, finance kindergartens in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and train nurses for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. Since the association was founded, over 6 million Swiss francs have gone to projects in Palestine.
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Smallholders and local producers harvest and refine products of extraordinary quality worldwide. But for many of these producers there is no adequate or stable market. You can buy directly from these producers via the Access to Market Platform and help them to participate in the market. The principle behind this is crowd ordering – a new trade model whereby a number of consumers order a product together so as to achieve a minimum order quantity. We at gebana support the producers with our know-how, and organise the logistics.
Enable someone to make their first export with your order. Please note: Unexpected events often lead to delays, and you may find that the quality is not yet perfect. For this reason, your feedback is absolutely essential. The export experience and your feedback are important steps for the producers towards accessing the market. As a customer, you are witness to the whole process, playing your part in pioneering work.
You can order from these producers simply and directly. You receive your product as soon as the minimum order quantity has been reached and the products are ready. The risk for you is minimal, since the producers already have a product that is ready for market. This sales channel is beneficial to both the producers and the consumers, since it cuts out the middle man.
Be part of the development of supply chains and support innovation! Some of the ways you can do this include testing new products, giving feedback, or financially supporting the producers in their next steps. In doing so, you will be able to see for yourself how the products and supply chains develop.
This is where you can see all the completed projects on the Access to Market Platform at a glance. You can find out where products are now available from or whether the producers are still seeking a trade partner.