PFTA Organic Program
“Organic” is more than a marketing slogan at the PFTA. A growing portion of the production of PFTA farms is certified Organic by the Institute of Marketecology (IMO) of Switzerland.
Certification standards are set by country. We hold certification for USDA Organic (NOP), European organic (EEO), and Japanese organic (JAS). Over half our farmers have qualified for the organic designation, and many are in the process of conversion. Organic certification has already been expanded to include almonds, wheat and tomatoes. Certification documents are available at Canaan Fair Trade.
The PFTA philosophy is to convert all its fair trade producers to certified organic production in order to enhance economic return on value-added products and to secure the long-term health and capacity of the physical environment.
In application, in 2005 the PFTA gained support from Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, the leading US manufacturer of natural soap products, to convert a significant number of PFTA's olive oil producing cooperatives to certified organic production. Consequently, PFTA and its exporting partner Canaan Fair Trade set up an Internal Control System (ICS) under the supervision of IMO. The ICS defines methods of farming, handling, documentation, and verification.
The ICS developed an Organic Management Plan (OMP) specific to olive growing in Palestine. The plan details production techniques and incorporates self-audits which allow ICS to detect disqualifying non-conformities and to prescribe corrective actions. All participants in the production chain practice systematic record-keeping. Filling in and implementing the OMP is beneficial training for press operators and farmers, as they learn to apply the standards and identify deficiencies.
Basic to the organic program are the use of natural manure and non-harmful chemical fertilizers, organic pest control, and mechanical weed control. Organic and conventional products are segregated throughout production, processing and storage. In addition, growers commit to protection of water, waste management, field sanitation, and the use of recyclable and/or biodegradable inputs as part of a larger commitment to environmental stewardship.
In 2006, PFTA successfully certified the production of 375 olive growers as organic. They farm 18,300 dunums (1800 ha) which produce an annual average of 400 metric tons (MT) of oil. In 2007, organic certification was expanded to include almonds, sesame seeds, wheat, and tomatoes -- currently 1000 dunums (10 ha) of almonds and 600 dumums (600 ha) of annual crops.
PFTA seeks to convert all its fair trade producers to certified organic production in order to enhance economic return on value-added products and to secure the long-term health and capacity of the physical environment.
- "Organic is better for our health, and I am the first one to eat my olive oil." Farmer Ahmed Mahmoud Bahlaq, Sebastiya, explaining why he farms organically even though it takes 100 sacks of manure, versus 2 sacks of chemicals, plus extra transport and labor costs, to fertilize his fields.