More than 600,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank are without jobs. That’s just over 16% of the population, and in the Gaza Strip the situation is worse with fully 40% of the population unemployed. In the past we’ve explored the value of green jobs, but frequently projects in the Palestinian territories only benefit a handful of people. Not so with THIMAR (Nature’s Produce for Agricultural Investment and Marketing.) Established in 2008 by the Nussiebeh family, the farm has grown more quickly than anyone could have imagined, not only fueling the local economy, but also restoring dignity to 140 workers and their families.
Small time farmers grow
After 70 years of growing mostly bananas and citrus fruits, the Nussiebeh family founded THIMAR and expanded their agricultural know-how to include herbs and other produce, including tomatoes and eggplants that will make your mouth water.
Since 2010, the company has tripled its output and employs three times the staff as it did. Workers in a video sponsored by the USDA say that prior to getting work at the farm, they were in dire straits. But now their situation has improved and dignity has been restored.
In 2011, Thimar received fiscal help from the Palestine Growth Capital Fund managed by Riyada Enterprise Development (RED), the investment arm of Abraaj Capital – a private equity firm that focuses on developing small and mid cap companies, according to Wamda.
And grow some more
That cash infusion will allow the company to achieve even greater expansion. They hope to establish post harvest plants, improve infrastructure, and cut out the middle man so that eventually they will be able to create 15 new full time jobs and hire another 100 temporary workers by next year.
At present, the company’s herbs are exported to the United States and Europe – an impressive feat for any farm in the Middle East since US/EU agricultural standards are very high – while the majority of its produce is sold locally. Eventually some of it will be exported to the Gulf, which could alleviate the agricultural shortages that have spurred land grabs in Africa.
Although their food-growing capacity and job creation efforts are noteworthy enough, Thimar will also reclaim about 500,000 sq. meters of land and extend irrigation, water and electricity networks as far as Oja – a remote Palestinian village, reports Wamda.
Family business goes corporate
Wamda notes that RED’s investment will continue to drive Thimar’s market expansion and transform the company from a family enterprise to a corporate entity with “modern systems driving performance standards and management.”
One family has risen from obscurity to create an institution that easily competes on the international market, and they have brought hundreds of Palestinians with them.
Image credit: Palestinian Farmer, Shutterstock
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