History and Success
Founded in 1993 as a union for farmers in the West Bank and Gaza, the PFU currently has 14 affiliated associated farmers across the West Bank and Gaza governances. Individual farmers are registered in their governance association, with each association electing two representatives to the PFU general assembly. Our aim is to build the capacity of the agricultural sector with the participation of Palestinian farmers through associations and cooperatives.
Since creation, the PFU has implemented several developmental programs. These have included programs in olive oil, micro-credit, collective purchasing and health insurance. These programs aim to strengthen the economic development of the Palestinian agricultural sector whilst providing services to the Palestinian rural populations facing economic, social and financial difficulties.
1. PFU special relations with agricultural cooperatives
The PFU has worked extensively with agricultural collectives to defend the rights of farmers and improve their economic situation. Cooperatives provide farmers a greater level of autonomy and organization. Importantly, they support the PFU's notion that farmers must be the primary advocates of the agricultural sector in order to defend their rights and produce change.
2. Value Added Tax (VAT) recovery program
The PFU established the VAT recovery program to allow farmers to recover the 16.5% VAT paid on agricultural production inputs. This was achieved through cooperation between the PFU and Ministries of Agriculture and Finance as well as specialist workshops on the mechanisms for recovering VAT.
3. Collective marketing and purchase programs
The CMPP program was established to stimulate and support small farmers and cooperatives in marketing their products through networking with public commerce institutions and private sector specialists in agricultural marketing. The aim of the program was to develop high quality products consistent with local and international standards and to improve the market presence of Palestinian products.
4. Olive oil program
The olive oil market is considered the most important of the Palestinian agricultural sector. Olive trees account for nearly 45% of cultivated land in Palestine and can contribute as much as 15-19% of agricultural output. In addition, olives have deep cultural significance, representing traditional societies and ties to the land. The olive oil program operated to produce olive oil consistent with the standards of international markets, particularly Europe, in order to capitalize on the potential these markets offer.
The success of this program was achieved by providing farmers with training on the best production practices as well as specialized courses in organizational construction and financial management. In addition, the PFU was able to provide farmers cooperatives with equipment (new and refurbished) that amounted to more than 360,000USD. Following this over 157 tons of high quality olive oil was produced in 2008. Of this 92% was extra-virgin olive oil, 30% of which was organic.