Within the framework of the project which was designed to support the Medjoul Dates sector, in terms of promotion and marketing in France and Palestine, PARC Al Reef arranged a visit for school students from Ramallah to the Jordan Valley in Sep 30th 2014. The project is funded by Artisans du Monde and executed by PARC in cooperation with Al Reef.
The school students are aged 15-16 years old and study at the Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah. Since they live in the center of the West Bank, they barely hear about the Jordan Valley and the situation there and do not have much knowledge about the daily life of Palestinian farmers and inhabitants in the Jordan Valley in general. Furthermore, they do not have information about the medjoul dates production and its socioeconomic and political values.
The field trip was organized in cooperation between Al Reef technical staff in Jericho and medjoul dates farmers in the Jordan Valley. The students had the chance to meet with medjoul dates farmers to learn about the whole idea behind the medjoul dates plantation.
In his meeting with the students, Mohamad Abu Qattam, an active dates farmer, explained to the students how to differentiate good dates from bad dates. He also explained how organic dates are grown and how it can benefit their health in comparison with dates that are grown with chemicals.
He described the pre-harvest activities that have to be carried out in order to ensure high quality production of dates, which are necessary to meet the international standards for dates that are exported to fair trade markets .
After the meetings at the farm, the students headed to the dates factory that is operated by Al Reef, and which provides farmers in the area with filling, packaging and quality control services.
The purchasing manager of Al Reef explained how the dates are sourced from farmers under fair trade principles. He explained why PARC and Al Reef buy the dates from small farmers, because they are the most vulnerable people in the Jordan Valley.
The production manager of Al Reef explained how the dates are transported from farmers to the factory and the methods of processing, filling, packaging and storage.
At the end, students were informed about the fair trade movement in general and they understood that these dates are exported to fair trade organizations around the world. Furthermore, they knew that their trip to the field was made possible with support of Artisans du Monde; a French fair trade organization which has a plan to import and promote Palestinian dates in France.
The concept of fair trade was new to the students and they expressed that they felt fair trade is a great idea, and that prefer to buy from poor farmers rather than big companies.