Organic Olive Oil by Abed al-Majid Hussein

Product: Organic Olive Oil
Producer: Abed al-Majid Hussein
Location: Deir Hana

Abed al-Majid Hussein is an agronomist from the village of Deir Hana, a co-founder of Sindyanna of Galilee, and the only certified organic olive oil producer in the Arab sector in Israel to date. Abed's delectable, nutritious organic olive oil is marketed by Sindyanna of Galilee since 1997.

Abed was born in 1963 in the village of Deir Hana in the lower Galilee in Israel. In 1989, he received his degree in Agricultural Engineering from Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, specializing in livestock. In 1993, Abed returned to Deir Hana and continued to hone his skills – practicing agronomy at his family's olive orchards, and teaching agriculture in the Agriculture Technical High School in the village of Rameh, where he himself had studied.

In 1997, fueled by a mission to modernize agriculture and transform it into a viable source of income for the Arab society in Israel, Abed co-founded Sindyanna of Galilee with social activists from the Jewish and Arab sectors. The fruitful cooperation between Sindyanna of Galilee and Abed, his family and other farmers enabled Sindyanna of Galilee to transform the olive groves of the latter to fully organic olive groves following two years of work.

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Like many other Arab land owners, Abed has had to overcome one of the key obstacles responsible for the underdevelopment of agriculture in the Arab sector – the diminishing farmlands. This obstacle stems from the Arab inheritance custom of dividing the family's land evenly between all the inheriting sons, thereby leaving each generation with land titles over smaller and smaller plots, to the point of inheriting title in two to three trees alone. Left with no agricultural viability or benefit, Arab families have gradually abandoned agriculture as a source of livelihood. Sadly, this leaves every village with more and more derelict lands and families are losing the ability to live off their lands.

The solution, Abed says, lies in unity. Once joined together, all of the plots of a family would provide land whose size is sufficient for agricultural use; therefore, each family must reach an agreement wherein one family member takes care of all of the family's plots, while the other family members are compensated by him or given their share of the income. This solution enabled Abed's family to overcome the size barrier. Abed was chosen to manage 100 dunams (about 25 acres or 10 hectares) inherited by his father and five uncles. "It's not my land," he explains, "I just manage it, and everyone benefits. Personally, I love agriculture – it's in my blood. But, I also believe it is vital for every nation. It is the primary source of food. A nation or community that gives up on agriculture becomes dependent on others. For this reason, it is important to preserve agriculture and develop it."

The organic, extra virgin olive oil from the groves owned by Abed's family is cold pressed and stored in a cooling room in Sindyanna of Galilee's warehouse, and is later filtered, bottled and labeled.