The sale of olives puts food on the table and increases income security

Project completed
A farmer holds freshly harvested olives in his hands. He seems to be explaining how they have been cultivated.
Working in olive cultivation and selling, farmers improve their livelihood. © David Levene/Oxfam David Levene/Oxfam

Small scale farmers in the West Bank sell their own olives in the commercial market, thereby improving their livelihood. The SDC supports them with access to potential customers and fair conditions of trade. In this way, smallholder farmers' financial situation is strengthened and they are less susceptible to negative external factors.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Agricultural development
Employment creation
15.11.2011 - 30.04.2015
CHF  3’620’000

In order to facilitate the farmers' access to the markets, the SDC runs the project "Making the olive market work for the poor" with an approach geared towards development. It tackles the core problems from a number of angles :

  • As part of the project, farmers receive further training in order to achieve more sustainable production, higher yields and better quality produce.

  • The links joining the different parts of the production chain are strengthened, giving the farmers the broadest access possible to the various stakeholders, for example in the private sector. This enables them to sell their products in different markets, for example the organic and fair-trade markets.

  • The project cooperates with local organisations in the olive oil sector. Therefor it doesn’t serve only the interests of farmers receiving direct assistance. Moreover it prevents the farms from becoming dependent on international aid. Guidelines are being drawn up to reduce poverty in the olive oil sector and raise awareness of gender issues.

  • Cooperation and coordination with other donors and stakeholders are overseen by the Olive Oil Thematic Group, under the leadership of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture.

The SDC has been working in the West Bank since 2006 with small and medium scale farms and with institutions from the agricultural sector. The objective is to facilitate access to commercial markets for olive growers and help them improve their livelihood. The reason for the SDC's involvement is the high level of unemployment and food insecurity in the West Bank.

Agricultural sector significant
Agriculture accounts for the majority of jobs in the West Bank. The poor in particular make a living from this sector and many Palestinians are dependent on agriculture for their income. The "Making the olive market work for the poor" project provides them with a source of income and food.

Phase three of the project: focus on sustainability
The SDC recognises the high potential of the olive sector to contribute to improved employment and income situations. Helping develop the sector, it takes particular account of the needs of women and deprived households.
The third phase of the ongoing project focuses on sustainable support and the identification of root causes of constraints along the value chain.

Oxfam Great Britain as implementing partner
Oxfam Great Britain (OxGB) is the SDC's direct implementation partner. It has sub- contracted some of SDC's former local implementing partners to ensure continuity in the project both for the partners and for the aid recipients. OxGB is responsible for the general project management and coaching/capacity building for those local partners. Switzerland finances the project in conjunction with the EU and Oxfam.