This project will involve several sectors of the Palestinian society: producers, to improve the "competition" on the market; traders, to offer a new kind of products; consumers, as regards their health. But the most important beneficiary will be the agricultural "world", in order to assure to farmers, choosing organic farming, a best income generation.

The project will be mostly located in pluvial areas, because in these areas is concentrated the majority of poor farmers, owing to the scarce productivity of land, the difficulties in obtaining credits and the lack of resources to be invested in inputs for agriculture. The second priority will be the Gaza and Jericho regions, where small-scale producers are concentrated. Organic farming will improve soil fertility and renewable resources, through absence of chemical inputs.

A special attention will be devoted to women, who will be encouraged to cultivate domestic orchards, in order to improve food quality and to assure an income generation. Training will be organized in groups, 20 people each, and 50% will be women. The selection of beneficiaries will be based on economic and social criteria, following PARC experience in the last years: first of all, the ownership of the land (with priority to farmers who base their income generation on farming). This project was discussed with farmers' representatives, following the PARC Strategic plan on Agriculture (1998/2001), and answering to several consumers "point out" about food quality in Palestine.

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OBJECTIVES

OVERALL OBJECTIVE

The overall objective of the Project is the introduction in Palestine of the production of organic farming products, obtained through the improvement, development and organisation of organic farming techniques in the area. In addition, the Project aims to "open" the local and international market of this kind of products. The Project will promote a close link with Italian "structures" involved in organic farming production and trade. An added value of the project will be the "struggle" against rural unemployment, soil erosion, and desertification.

IMMEDIATE OBJECTIVES

The process will follow these immediate objectives:

  1. To protect and improve soil fertility in the long term;
  2. To implement renewable farming systems based on local resources;
  3. To promote the creation of Farmers Associations of organic farming;
  4. To promote the breeding of local races;
  5. To preserve genetic variation in the farming system;
  6. To "open" an organic farming products market, domestic and     international.
  7. To promote the adoption of a regulation on organic farming in the country.

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IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROJECT

METHODOLOGIES

The Project will implement an integrated structure in order to deal with every subject related to organic farming, from land recon version to production and trade:

  • Implementation of three pilot farms (where training courses will be located).
  • Extensionists and "key" farmers (women and men) training; follow up and selection of the trained for local upgrading.
  • Definition of a Statute and a Mission for the Organic Farming Producers Committee.
  • Standards of certification for organic farming and social legislation.
  • Products marketing and consumers.
  • Institutional support.

a) Implementation of three pilot farms (where training courses will be located). The Project foresees the implementation of three pilot stations (farms) of organic farming, to be used as location for the training courses (on the job training). The stations will be in Jericho, Falamiah and Gaza. Land will be the contribution of farmers to the Project (for a period of ten years), together with the needed water for irrigation. The farms will be equipped with nurseries and greenhouses. In the farms, in addition to the training courses, compost production will be implemented.

b) Extensionists and "key" farmers (women and men) training; follow up and selection of the trained for local upgrading. Workshops and training courses will be implemented as follows: Organisation and implementation of two different trainings: one for the extensionists (agronomists) and one for "key" farmers (women and men), on the following subjects: a) soil preparation for the re-conversion of farms to organic farming; b) production of compost and other natural fertilizers; c) choice of the best seeds; d) research and specification of plant diseases in Palestine; e) preparation of natural remedies; f) biologic "fight"; g) re-conversion of breeding techniques.

As regards the beneficiaries, farmers, PARC extensionists, other NGOs extensionists and farmers association members, will be selected for the courses. The project will cooperate with Research Centres and Institutions based in countries where the organic farming is still developed. Experts will assure consulting on product preservation, packaging, marketing, definition of the standards for product certification, environmental protection, re-conversion to organic farming.

c) Definition of a Statute and a Mission for the Organic Farming Producers Committee. The Project foresees the creation of an Organic Farming Producers Committee in order to improve the spread and the knowledge of this farming system. This Association (100 members at least) will define a "mission" and a working program. The Committee will also supply the necessary services for the certification of organic farming production. During the period of re-conversion from traditional farming to organic farming, farmers will lose their income; so the project foresees to support them through "in cash" subsidies (100 farmers, with 5 dunums of land each. The subsidy will be Lit. 260.000 for each dunum, for a total of Lit. 130.000.000).

d) Standards of certification for organic farming and social legislation. The Project will create a Committee (composed by PARC and the Ministry of Agriculture), in order to assess the international standards to be applied to Palestinian production, following the European Union and the IFOAM standards. This will allow the marketing (export) of products. Once settled the standards, a Certification Committee will manage the official certification of the organic farming production.

e) Products marketing and consumers. The Project will: implement several information campaigns for the consumers, through brochures and TV advertising, in order to promote the purchase of organic farming production. Involve "key elements" of the Palestinian society (social, political and economic) in supporting organic farming. Organise and equip three market/shops for organic farming, in order to sell the production and spread the knowledge about it. These shops (about 200 square meters each) will be rented in Nablus, Betlemme e Ramallah.

f) Institutional support. A supporting Committee (1.500 people and 20 farmers associations and NGOs) will be created. The Committee will play an essential role in convincing farmers and consumers of the importance of organic farming. In addition the committee will "lobby" for the issuing of regulations on organic farming and production marketing.

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EXPECTED RESULTS

  1. 3 training courses (one each year) implemented and 60 extensionists, (Parc and others NGO's) trained.
  2. 15 training courses (3 each six months) implemented. 300 farmers, men and women, trained.
  3. A farmers Committee (minimum 100 farmers) installed.
  4. Three pilot farms (Falamiah, Jericho and Gaza, with a minimum extension of 1.5 ha. Each) installed and operating.
  5. Three shops (+/- 200 mq) in Ramallah, Betlemme and Nablus financed by the selling of products opened and functioning; domestic and international trade of organic farming products operating.
  6. Quality certification for products (international standards);
  7. A Supporting Committee for the introduction of organic farming established.
  8. 100 farms reconverted to organic farming.
  9. A research on sustainable agricolture in the Arab world implemented; publication of the research; one seminary to spread the result of the project realized.

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