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The National program for the improvement of olive oil’s quality and action against the diffusion of stone fruit Phytoplasma: Enhancement and promotion of varieties of traditional olive tree in Lebanon

Place: lebanon, Asia
Food consumption patterns: diet, environment, society, economy and health Food consumption patterns: diet, environment, society, economy and health
Total Budget: € 1.775.400,00 | Period: From November 2011 To June 2014

Summary

The Project National program for the improvement of olive oil quality and actions against the diffusion of Phytoplasma, funded by the Italian government and managed directly by the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has one general objective: to contribute in ensuring food security in the country through the requalification of agriculture production in line with international standards and to promote national actions to fight the diffusion of phytopathologies that threatens the productivity of the drupes.
The main result was publication of the first booklet of characterization of local varieties, directly addressed to the olive oil farmers.
The beneficiaries were:
- Olive oil operators (growers, millers, etc.)
- MoA technicians
- Agricultural engineers
- Participants to the workshops and to the expositions
- final consumers

Partnership

Ministry of Agriculture, Lebanon - Lebanon

Lead applicant

Agriculture and marineculture Policy, Assistance and development of Agriculture, Food security

Lebanese Agricultural Research lnstitute - Lebanon

Initiative partner

LARI is a governmental organization under Minister of Agriculture Supervision. The institute conducts applied and basic scientific research for the development and advancement of the agricultural sector in Lebanon. In addition, the Institute keeps close ties to the farmers and tries to develop research activities aiming at solving their problems. The LARI has at its disposal eight experimental stations (Tel Amara, Tourbol, Kfardan, Kfarchakhna, Abdeh, Sour, Fanar, Lebaa) in an area of 280 hectares of agricultural land. The stations are located in agricultural areas where subtropical and temperate corps are produced. In These stations research projects are conducted to solve problems facing the agricultural sector in this area. Currently new qualified scientists are being recruited at these agricultural stations after several years of national conflict. The Lebanese Agricultural Research lnstitute is eager to recruit new qualified personnel and attract more financial support in order to face future challenge. International agencies such as FAO. UNDP and ICARDA who sponsored the institute Eviction in the past an CxteCtea tO COntaInS thor sponsored for the local and regional development, and progress.

MACHATEL LOUBNAN PLANT NURSERY ASSOCIATION - Lebanon

Initiative partner

Production and delivery of Certified plants for stone fruits, pome fruits, grapes, olives and citrus in Lebanon Establishment and management of the Multiplication Centers (mother blocks for scions and seeds) . Promotion and dissemination of certified propagative material Genetic and sanitary qualification of the nursery material produced by the Association members. Coordination management and distribution of certified propagative material. Technical assistance to the Association members in all the production and marketing steps. “Machatel Lebnan Association” is the highest guarantee for farmers searching high quality certified plant propagative material.

The project proposal is to complete the activities done during the previous project Olio Libano 1, in different regions of Lebanon trough trainings in Italy and in Lebanon for Technicians of Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) on field activities and processing and chemical-organoleptic analysis. The project worked for the restructuration of a building of the MoA in order to equip the first public laboratory in Lebanon for the quality olive oil analysis. Activities of training in Lebanon and the first exposition of local cultivars (cv.) in the middle-east were organized for the sector operators. In this occasions the first booklet of description of the 8 principal local Lebanese cultivar was published and distributed in order to help them to chose the cv. at the moment of olive orchard planting.

The project produced 2 important innovation in Lebanon on this issue:
1. the first edition of a booklet  describing the characteristics of 8 Lebanese local cultivars (cv.) directly addressed to the olive oil producers (in particular to the farmers) in order to help them during the olive orchard planting.
2. the first exposition of olive oil cv. in Middle-East, representing the first occasion for the farmers to look and to confront the olives oil cultivars for the dimension, colour of drupes, leaves and other productive aspects

Cover of a booklet Cover of the booklet “Varietal schemes from “Characterization of the main Lebanese olive germoplasm
Olive oil Exposition First Exposition of olive oil cv in Lebanon
Olive oil Exposition First Exposition of olive oil cv in Lebanon

In 2012 the project Olio Libano 1 ended, with a very important impact for visibility and for achieving the objectives in the marginal olive-growing areas of Lebanon, affected by problems of abandonment of crops.
The MoA has received many requests for Lebanese farmers to replicate the activities in the territories of olive growing not included in the previous project. Olio del Libano 2 represented a good opportunity to continue training and awareness of all the actors of olive oil chain for more modern and environmentally friendly techniques, adding the organization of the first olive oil cultivar exposition in Middle-East in order to help the farmers during the choice for the new planting.

Main results achieved at the local level:
- Publication of the extract of the booklet descriptive 8 local Lebanese cv.
- Distribution of the booklet addressed to the farmers
- Realization of the first exhibition of local Lebanese varieties of olive oil
- The development of traditional local Lebanese cultivars 

The beneficiaries were:
1. Technicians of MoA
2. operators of olive oil sector (growers, nurserymen, etc.).
3. participants at the exposition
4. final consumers

The perspective of work was to create the conditions for a future system of quality certification directly connected with the preservation of local varieties, giving the possibility to get an extra virgin olive oil typical of the area.
 

Exposition and popularization Moments of popularization during the Exposition in Baalbeck
Exposition and popularization Moments of popularization during the Exposition in Baalbeck

In Lebanon, the project was directly followed by a working group made of a administrative manager (Dr. Haydar Lama) and a technical manager (Dr. Majida
Mcheik).
In Italy, the project was supervised by a administrative and technical responsible (Dr. Eustachio Dubla), which was constantly interfaced with the Lebanese working group and the direction of the IAMB.
In Lebanon the activities were managed in function of the restructuring of the laboratory. In Italy the objective was to training in Italy and in Lebanon the operators and the technicians, selecting the international and local experts according to the local needs.

Project Management Unit in Italy Project Management Unit in Italy
Project Management Unit in Lebanon Project Management Unit in Lebanon

Being olives perishable plant material, the greatest difficulties were encountered during the collection from the field to the exposition.
To solve this problem, the project involved dr. Charbel Hobeika (Technical Manager of the Association of Local Nurseries), which collected in the field the material and keep in the fridge until the time of exposition. During the expositions, Dr. Hobeica organized the material in multiple locations, being careful to compromise it.
Another difficulty was found to propose the local varieties, because the the quantity of production interests more than the quality. So the Lebanese olive farmers are interested to plant international cultivars, that give more production, but cannot permit the characterization of the olive oils.
The work of the popularization of the MoA Technicians has allowed to increase in the interest of growers for the local varieties. 

The pomologic exhibition allowed to select, characterize and show more than 20 samples of olive varieties in many villages involved in the project.
3 workshops were conducted. In a part of these workshops there was the participation of the Lebanese Minister of Agriculture HE Mr. Hussein Hajj Hassan.
the total of growers participants was more than 250.
Through the presentation of the booklet, seminars, and varietal expositions a territorial process of awareness was started in order to preserve the olive local heritage and to stimulate a process to establish of procedures for the certification of products (DOP)

The booklet is a good tool to help the olive growers during the choice of the cv and obviously it can be improved by increasing the number of varieties and including the study to genetic and organoleptic factors, over that morphological and chemical. 

The popularization of the activities (exposition, workshops, distribution of the booklet, educational seminars) have been organized with press conferences, local notice, local televisions.