`CFC-Funded Nurseries will Serve as Models for New Technologies

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Common Fund Nurseries to Serve as Models for New Technologies

Nov. 19, 2012
Naomi Tupper

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A new pilot olive tree nurs­ery project, designed to increase pro­duc­tiv­ity and qual­ity, has been approved by the Com­mon Fund for Com­modi­ties in Tunisia, Alge­ria, Morocco and Egypt.

In each of these four coun­tries, pilot olive nurs­eries will be estab­lished, with the aim to raise income and tree pro­duc­tiv­ity of olive farm­ers in these regions, through improved olive prop­a­ga­tion. It is hoped that this objec­tive will be met through demon­stra­tion of mod­ern tech­niques, train­ing in nurs­ery man­age­ment and plant prop­a­ga­tion, pro­mo­tion of native genetic olive resources and ongo­ing mon­i­tor­ing and super­vi­sion.

Each nurs­ery is to have the capac­ity to pro­duce at least 25,000 olive plants each year and will focus on using mod­ern tech­niques to grow olive plants that pro­duce a high yield. Local vari­eties, that are well adapted to their loca­tion in terms of envi­ron­ment, cli­mate and soil type, will be grown in each of the four loca­tions, with the plants being dis­trib­uted to local farm­ers after prop­a­ga­tion for a rel­a­tively small fee. Pro­ceeds from the sales will be used to increase and broaden the ser­vices for nurs­ery cen­ters and farm­ers through­out the region.

All plants prop­a­gated in the nurs­eries will be grown using grafts, cut­tings or in vitro meth­ods from mother stock trees, so farm­ers may be sure of the plant stock they are receiv­ing in a way that they may not have been in the past. Dis­trib­ut­ing plants from a cer­ti­fied source may also be help­ful in man­ag­ing crop­ping and imple­ment­ing envi­ron­men­tally friendly agri­cul­tural tech­niques.

Along with envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits, nurs­ery prop­a­ga­tion of olive plants can influ­ence the eco­nomic per­for­mance of the entire pro­duc­tion chain. By allow­ing safe con­ser­va­tion of genetic stock, as well as mak­ing use of new tech­nolo­gies and prop­a­ga­tion tech­niques, nurs­eries have the abil­ity to sup­ply plants that are suit­able for mod­ern­iz­ing olive grow­ing tech­niques. This com­bined with increased sus­tain­abil­ity can trans­late to greater eco­nomic ben­e­fit.

With olive oil demand ever on the increase world­wide, it is hoped that a greater quan­tity and qual­ity of olives prop­a­gated, in con­junc­tion with devel­op­ment of farm­ers skills and edu­ca­tion on the impor­tance of obtain­ing plant mate­r­ial that is cer­ti­fied and good qual­ity, will play a part in meet­ing this need.

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The global olive grow­ing area has increased by 22 per­cent in the past ten years, so if this rate of increase were to con­tinue, more than 40 mil­lion trees would have to be pro­duced each year. This level of pro­duc­tion is far greater than cur­rent lev­els and it is hoped that nurs­ery projects such as this will help to pro­vide plants to meet the ongo­ing increase in demand.

The nurs­ery project is a col­lab­o­ra­tion between the Com­mon Fund For Com­modi­ties (CFC) and the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil, and is the sec­ond part of the com­pleted project enti­tled Con­ser­va­tion, Char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, Col­lec­tion and Uti­liza­tion of Genetic Resources in the Olive.” The first part of the project has enabled con­ser­va­tion of var­i­ous Mediter­ranean olive vari­eties.

The project will last for four years, at a cost of $1.7 mil­lion, after which it is expected that nurs­ery man­agers will increase plant sales to more com­mer­cial rates.



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