The beginnings of the Palestinian Farmers’ Union came into existence in the midst of the phases of the Israeli occupation. Between 1967 and 1993, before the Oslo agreements, political movements were underground as they were not allowed, giving birth to non-governmental organizations based on voluntarism. In the late 1970s, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee, an organization started by agronomists and farmers, emerged. The main focus of this organization at the time was to provide agricultural extension services, which were services that were no longer provided by the Israelis from the second half of the seventies in a deliberate attempt to marginalize the agricultural sector.
In 1983, PARC became an official organization, still concentrating on protecting Palestinian land and providing extension services, but it also became highly involved in the national struggle agenda. During the first Intifada, PARC contributed to the establishment and regulation of Civil Action Public Committees, which were developed in all areas of the West Bank. This, in part, increased the presence of the grounds and contact with rural communities and farmers. In the early 1990s, funding increased and professional staff was recruited. Afterwards, in 1993, PARC was institutionalized under the Palestinian National Authority. Once PARC was institutionalized, it gave way to the establishment of specialized association to deal with the problems of the agricultural sector. One of the associations that came to be from the PARC was The Palestinian Farmers’ Union (PFU).
In the first ten years, between 1993 and 2003, while PFU was still under the wings of PARC, activities developed, programs diversified and staff and budgets grew. In 2003, a decision was made to separate affiliated association from PARC and PFU became an independent registered organization under the Ministry of Interior Affairs. In the next seven years, between 2003 and 2010, PFU developed and expanded its programs and activities, most of which have continued until today; farmer training, organizational development, lobby and advocacy, representation and communication, tax refund, defense of land and water rights, and specific commodity-oriented programs. PFU even saw an increase in the number of its staff, with technical and support staff increasing to more than 20 persons.
During the period between 2010 and 2013, PFU dealt with financial problems due to the recruitment of staff for a project that never materialized. However, by 2014, the organization saw an upward trend once again with former activities being taken up again, new activities being developed, and new collaboration agreements being signed. Even through the difficult periods, local leaders remained loyal to the organization.
From the very beginning up until today, the vision and mission of PFU have remained the same. Our focus remains on defending the rights of farmers and building the capacity of farmers’ organizations and sustainable agricultural development, fueled by the dream of an independent democratic Palestinian state.