My name is Ismail Hamodah, I'm 49 years old, married and I have 3 kids, and two of them study at universities. Currently I'm a member in the board of directors in Al Zawiya agricultural cooperative, which was founded in 2\7\2008, within a project implemented by PARC. PARC encouraged us to establish a cooperative since the first Intifada, and I thought to establish a cooperative that can generate income to benefit both members and farmers. I introduced the idea of the cooperative and 15 members joined us. Today this cooperative includes 21 members."
Aim of the cooperative
"It aims to have more members and beneficiaries. Because life has taught me that when you have a team or a group working together, it's hard to break you, and you can do what you want. It also aims to generate other projects that can provide income to the farmers to improve their lives".
How much olive oil do you produce every year?
We produce between 6 to 11 tons each year. Last year we produced 11 tons of organic extra virgin olive oil, when the cooperative got the organic certificate.
What are the future plans or projects for the cooperative?
We hope to establish an oil press and develop a livestock project, and to increase the number of members.
What is the role of women in this cooperative?
Women’s role in Al Zawiya agricultural cooperative is very big and important, and there are no differences between women and men. The cooperative has 5 women, 2 of them in the administrative committee and 3 in the general assembly. It is also expected that this year a woman becomes the chairperson.
What is the nature of your relationship with Al Reef Company? And how does it help in the success and in continuing of the cooperative ?
I consider Al Reef Company’ employees my friends, we share visits and discussions. After every season of olive harvest we hold a meeting, and we analyze samples to make sure of oil's quality. Also we discuss statistics for production of each cooperative according to quantity and quality, and what is available in market, and finally set the prices after discussions with PARC and Al Reef. It also plays an important role in improving our skills and experiences through courses and workshops. In the end, without Al Reef support, we couldn't market our products with fair prices.
How did the cooperative affect member's socioeconomic situation?
Economical: it provides us with sustainable income in addition to the protection for fair prices in the market.
Social: we are now one family in this cooperative, with one spirit, and we are able now to provide a better life for our families. We are also able to give our sons better education and health services.
In addition, we have become educated and well known with the proper environmental practices and have been able to obtain an organic certificate for olive oil.