Taibeh Beer, Plows from Jenin, Gaza farmers and the Minister of Agriculture`s visit to the Palestinian Pavilion at the 2012 Agro- Mashov Fair.
Date: 05.03.12 Author: Ron Ben-Hamo
The Agro-Mashov Fair is an annual event for agriculture in Israel which is being held for the 22nd time and in which hundreds of companies in all the various agricultural sectors are represented; the fair provides a platform for professional meetings and discourse and attracts visitors to it from Israel and from all over the world.
Among the visitors and exhibitors this year, there were several new visitors, Palestinian farmers and businessmen from all over Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. A complete pavilion was allocated to them in which stalls were set up and they were able to exhibit their merchandise, to see and be seen, and to make new business contacts.
The Palestinian Pavilion, which was set up with funding from the Civil Administration, attracted considerable attention from many visitors to the fair including the Minister of Agriculture, Orit Noked. The Minister had a look at all the Palestinian stalls, spoke at length with the exhibitors and was also impressed by their produce. There were stalls with vegetables, herbs and spices, tehina, dates, olive oil and also a beer and wine stall.
“We have identified considerable potential at the fair” said the Civil Administration Agricultural Staff Officer, Mr. Samir Muadi. “we have understood that Palestinian agriculture can be promoted through it by enabling them to demonstrate a presence at the fair and exhibit their produce”. The venture began last year when the Civil Administration sent a request to the management of the fair and received a positive response, as a result of which six Palestinian exhibitors were represented; this year the Civil Administration approached nine Palestinian entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector, who were please to respond favorably and exhibit at the fair.
“The Palestinian Pavilion at the fair is undoubtedly attracting attention, both among Israelis and worldwide. The exhibitors are saying that the fair is opening up new markets for them and in a considerable number of cases export deals have been closed”, Samir added. In addition, the Civil Administration has arranged the entry of more than 300 leading farmers to the exhibition from the Judea and Samaria region, and had been vigorously active in preparing all the necessary lists and permits, including financing the cost of five buses to the site.
An unusual stall in terms of the local scene was the stall of the “Taibeh Beer” factory. This is a boutique beer brewed in the small and tranquil village of Taibeh, near Ramallah, as it is described by Dr. Maria Khoury. “We are always looking to expand and accumulate more customers and the fair is an excellent way of doing this”, Maria said.
Khoury, who has a doctorate in the field of education and is working currently in the family beer business, is unceasingly working to promote the brand which is now being marketed in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Germany and also in Japan. In October this year she is also planning a beer festival along the lines of the German “Oktoberfest” festival which is not only designed for enjoyment but also to strengthen the product and the local economy.
Another person who participated in the fair was Ibrahim Hadad, the owner of the “Hadad Factory” for ploughs and agricultural equipment. “I almost disappeared from the Israeli market after the second intifada, but Samir (Muadi) contacted me and persuaded me to come and exhibit at fairs like these, and since then I have the feeling that I am again succeeding in getting into the Israeli market and that my business is on the rise as it was 10 years ago”.
“The fair also enables is to tell everyone that there is a quality Palestinian product that can meet the standards of the Israeli and world markets”, adds Imad Nusseibeh, the owner of “Thimar” Co. which is engaged in growing and exporting fresh herbs and spices.
Farmers from Gaza were also there
Visitors and exhibitors from the West Bank were not the only ones who came; the Gaza Contact and Coordination Administration has approved and arranged the exit of 18 heads of agricultural societies and agronomists who come regularly from Gaza to fairs of this kind in Israel, and they acquire new know-how from the fairs, become familiar with the recent new and technological innovations in the field of agriculture and the opportunities for strengthening existing business contacts. “The object is for the farmers to maintain a high level of cultivation, to succeed in producing all their requirements as well as continuing agricultural exports from Gaza” explained the G.C.C.A Coordinator, Mr. Uri Madar.
“The quality of the exports has risen in comparison to previous years, the farmers are satisfied and are interested in the enhancement of agricultural areas”, said Younis Fellah, a technical consultant from Gaza. The fair also facilitates the strengthening of contacts and cooperation with the “Flowers Council Ltd”, a Palestinian Company that assists with the export of flowers from Gaza to Europe. “The cooperation began several years ago and has borne fruit since then, also due to the G.C.C.A which helps and deals with any request from both sides”, added a director of the Company, Mr. Haim Hadad. “The quality of the product has improved in recent years and now meets the European Standards, I am pleased to say that this year it has been easy for the produce to get out and without any special problems due to the easing of restrictions with regard to the Gaza Strip”.
“I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of activity and cooperation”, added the Chairman of the Farmers Lobby, Member of Knesset Shai Hermesh who visited the site. “This is the most effective answer to all the negative aspects, the fact that there is a Staff Officer whose job is solely concerned with agriculture, shows that there is still hope and that agricultural cooperation is a win-win situation only”.
In view of the considerable success in the fair and from conversations held with the representatives in which they expressed their intense willingness to take part in the international “Agri-Tech” Exhibition, the Civil Administration has already begun to promote the venture and to submit a request to the Director General of the Exhibition in order to enable Palestinians to participate and exhibit at it, this coming May.