The second intifada has caused a dramatic decline in the Palestinian economy. Many of the students in Taybeh village were not able to pay their school tuition fees. The local priest, who is also the school’s head, let those who could not pay their tuition in money pay with olive oil.
Taybeh village, north east for Ramallah, is known for its many olive trees. Driving up to the village is to experience true beauty, with olive grooves on both sides of the road. Taybeh used to be a village of more than 8000 people, but because of emigration only 1500 villagers are left.
Taybeh Brewing Co. was established in 1994, when Nadim C. Khoury, his brother and father wanted to invest in their home town Taybeh in Palestine. The Oslo agreement was just signed, and optimism reigned in Palestine. In 1995 they produced their first Taybeh beer.
Beer and olive oil
The production and sale of olive oil did not start before 2000, after the second intifada started. The situation following the outburst of the intifada created a difficult situation for the villagers of Taybeh. Unemployment rose dramatically, and several students at the Christian school in the village were not able to pay their tuition fee’s.
The olive oil became a solution for many of the students which could not pay for their tuition. The priest at the school suggested that those who could not pay for the tuition with money could pay with olive oil. Soon the priest had 80 drums, each containing 17 liters olive oil, in the schools basement, in total 1360 liters of olive oil. This was way too much for the church to use by itself, and selling olive oil to the villagers in Taybeh was impossible, because most of them had their own family supply.
The priest first suggested the idea for ‘Taybeh Brewing Co’. That they should buy the oil from the church. Through the internet they found an ethical company in Belgium, Alter Eco, who sold olive oil. They bought this load of olive oil from Taybeh Brewing, and a new natural product was added to their operation.
Because of low prices on the olive oil, the olive trees had not been taken good care of during the previous years. The quality of the oil needed to be improved to reach the standards of Extra Virgin Olive oil, a requirement set by their partner in Belgium. Nadim Khoury participated in several olive oil congresses and workshops, and when he returned to his village, he taught the farmers what he had learned. He also told the farmers that Taybeh Brewing would by their olive oil if it was up to their high quality standards. If the oil was up to the quality requirements, Taybeh Brewing would also pay more than the other olive presses. This was done in order to give the farmers more money so that they could improve their agriculture work on their olive trees.
Demand create’s hope
Because there was now a higher demand for the olive oil, several farmers in Taybeh and the surrounding villages returned to cultivating their fields. Even some of the young people in the villages now saw a future in being an olive farmer once again.
With the help of the Italian farmer association, the Taybeh Brewing co. were able to buy themselves a second hand olive press. It was installed in the end of the season in 2003, and they have expectations that the olive oil in the 2004 season will be even better with the new olive press. Make sure you get to taste this oil, sold through the Al Ard Al-Taybeh Campaign