Nazareth, Israel (August 1, 2012) — When Israeli olive oil producer Ayala Noy upgraded her mill to improve the quality of her oil, she never dreamed that one day it would serve as a model for Palestinian producers.
However that is exactly what happened when she joined a USAID-funded Near East Foundation project to promote cross-border cooperation in the olive sector.
Ayala – an entrepreneur and woman business owner – recently invited seven Palestinians to her home in Nazareth. There she led fellow producers on a tour of her mill so they could see first-hand how to implement the simple, low-cost techniques that have dramatically improved her olive oil.
When the tour concluded, the Palestinians extended an invitation to Ayala and other Israeli producers to visit their mills in the West Bank.
As project participants, 12 Palestinian and Israeli mill operators will receive support from USAID and the Near East Foundation to make similar upgrades that will increase the quality and quantity of their oil production. These include cold pressing techniques, hygiene standards, quality testing, storage in nitrogen-sealed stainless steel containers, and organic certification.
In the short term, the improvements will result in an increase in income for olive oil producers, greater market access for olive farmers, and increased opportunity for cross-border business initiatives.
“While olive oil production is a critical economic industry for both Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinian producers have lagged behind because of barriers to the transfer of supplies and technical expertise,” said Salah Abu-Eisheh, NEF Director for the Palestinian Territories.
The mill exchange is just one example of how the project is successfully helping to close this technology gap by providing opportunities where people from both sides can gather to share their knowledge. At the same time, they are building mutually beneficial relationships grounded in economic cooperation.
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 the United 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.