Nazareth, Israel (September 26, 2012) — Over 40 Palestinians and Israelis recently gathered in Nazareth for a cross-border workshop to advance collaboration at all stages of olive oil production, from growing olives to marketing olive oil.
The meeting was the fifth in a series supported by USAID and the Near East Foundation.
At the “Training of Trainers” workshop, participants heard from technical experts – and shared best practices – through sessions that included emerging technologies, ideal chemical composition of high quality olive oil, and sustainable irrigation strategies.
After receiving training, attendees returned home to serve among the growing number of project leaders in Israel and the West Bank. Each person has agreed to share what they learned with at least 20 of their peers in bi-weekly training sessions and to help advance cross-border activities in the industry overall.
Like the 110 people who have already worked with the project in its first year, the 30 Palestinians and 11 Israelis at the training meeting represented a cross-section of 26 communities in the West Bank and eight communities in Israel.
As news of the project spreads, so too does the number of participants. The potential for broad impact in the industry has grown with the recent additional involvement of Zeita Company, the largest distributor of olive oil serving Jewish communities in Israel, and Jahshan Company, the largest oil company serving primarily Arab communities inside Israel.
“This amount of cooperation has never existed before,” said Salah Abu Eisheh, NEF Country Director in the Palestinian Territories. “We believed there was great potential for both sides to benefit but until this project no one had found a way to bring them together.”
The project will foster cross-border activities for two more years, with meetings alternating in location to highlight opportunities on each side of the border.
The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF helps build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and to empower citizens through “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.
This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through theUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Near East Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.