Rajai Fayyad, a member of the Holy Land Agricultural Cooperative in Al- Zababideh in Jenin governorate and a father of three beautiful children aged 10, 7 and 4. Rajai has been cooperating with Al Reef for Investment and Agricultural Marketing for almost 4 years now and his tomatoes are processed and dried to be sold locally and abroad. “Being able to market my tomatoes through Al Reef has not only improved my economic conditions but it also developed me mentally and emotionally as a Palestinian farmer that faces unlimited barriers and challenges”, said Rajai.
One of the challenges Rajai faces is the lack of water and the Israeli occupation that prohibits the farmers from digging wells and steals the underground water for the use of Israeli settlements. While he was checking on his tomatoes Rajai said: “As long as water is available, both my tomatoes crops and my future are secured; tomatoes require a substantial amount of water compared to other crops, and this of course remains a big concern due to the occupation constraints on the Palestinian farmers”.
We met Rajai while he was riding his tractor on his way to fill his tank with water to irrigate his tomatoes, a 4 km ride every day. He can only get 16 cubic meters of water each day but this is not enough. Standing on his tank and waiting for it to be filled, Rajai shouts through the noise of water pump engine “this is what consumes my time, energy and costs me money every day”.
“I have never imagined that I could be able to fulfill my dream as an excellent experienced farmer, because when a farmer is part of fair trade, he or she becomes more aware and educated, develops skills and expands their prospects and way of thinking” said Rajai. Rajai looked so resilient and steadfast. He never shows up without his straw hat and never stops dreaming to become a well-established and capable farmer who is able to provide for his family and children and to become a motivation example for farmers. “Without fair trade, I wouldn’t be in this place today” said Rajai.
Loading tomatoes from Rajai’s orchard to be transported to Jericho where it is
washed, sliced, and let to be dried