Nasser Abufarha from Palestine
OWA Winner 2017

Nasser Abufarha was born in the farming village of Al Jalama. In the United States, he concluded his education with a PhD in anthropology. After his studies, he founded and managed the Mediterranean restaurant Shish Café for many years. Working for various companies he substantially improved his business skills.

In 2004, Nasser returned to Palestine and set up his company Canaan Fair Trade (CFT). He realized that economic independence is a foundation of peace in Palestine as the Israeli occupation is also carried out with “economic weapons”. The Israeli army, for example, uprooted about 800.000 olive trees.


He witnessed the miserable situation of the farmers that was exacerbated by the dramatic price drop for olive oil. He began to give farmers access to international markets and afforded them the opportunity to secure good incomes through organic and fair prices. Today, more than 1.5000 family members of organic and fair trade farmers are benefitting from his activities and 2.400 farm workers could increase their wages by sixty percent thanks to his activities. The olive production for CFT covers an area of 43.000 hectares. Thanks to capacity building farmers increased their olive yield by 200 percent! Until today, the project has developed far beyond olive cultivation as new crops (for example almonds) were brought in.

Nasser founded the Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA) uniting 2.500 farmers. Today, PFTA is the largest supplier of fair trade olive oil worldwide. In addition, he started five cooperatives for women.

The co-ops produce dried tomatoes and the speciality product Maftoul and generate income through small business start-ups. Nasser also set up the Canaan Center for Research and Extension where five staff members carry out research and engage in capacity building.

He has developed his business as a social enterprise. Significant portions of his profits are used to fund social programs. Given the oppressive and violent situation for the Palestinian people, Nasser contributes significantly to the OWA objective to encourage more involvement for a peaceful world. Moreover, the organic movement that he initiated is also at peace with nature. He is an extraordinary example for an activist who works for peace and the environment and who succeeds as food pioneer and movement builder.