Humanity’s challenge of the century: Conserving Earth’s freshwater systems
12 May 2023
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Many desert cities, including Tripoli, Phoenix and Los Angeles, are sustained by water brought from other basins by hydro megaprojects that are aging and susceptible to collapse, while the desalination plants that water Persian Gulf cities come at a high economic cost with serious salt pollution.
Many dryland cities like Los Angeles, Cairo and Tehran have already outstripped natural water recharge, but are expected to continue growing, resulting in a deepening arid urban water crisis.
According to NASA’s GRACE mission, 19 key freshwater basins, including several in the U.S., are being unsustainably depleted, with some near collapse; much of the water is used indiscriminately by industrial agribusiness.
Many desert cities, including Tripoli, Phoenix and Los Angeles, are sustained by water brought from other basins by hydro megaprojects that are aging and susceptible to collapse, while the desalination plants that water Persian Gulf cities come at a high economic cost with serious salt pollution.
Experts say that thinking about the problem as one of supply disguises the real issue, given that what’s really missing to heading off a global freshwater crisis is the organization, capital, governance and political will to address the problems that come with regulating use of a renewable, but finite, resource.
Read the full article here
FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, the Alliance for Soil of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the Argentinian Association of Direct Seeding, Catholic Relief Services, the Project +Cotton from the International Cooperation of Brazil-FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through the Family Farming Knowledge Platform, Water Resources Management Team, Family Farming & Agroecology Communities of Practice of Africa and LAC, and the Soil Community of Practice for LAC invites all interested parties working on actions aimed at sustainable soil management to present good practices, innovations and technologies that can be replicated, adapted and scaled up in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.
In Memoriam: Honoring Andrea Pisanelli’s Contributions to Agroforestry Research
Dear friends of the LIVINGAGRO community,
it is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we announce that our dear colleague and friend Andrea Pisanelli passed away on May 5th, 2023 after battling with his illness for almost a year.
As part of the CNR, the Italian National Research Council – Institute of Research on Terrestrial Ecosystems, where he carried out his research for almost 30 years, among his beloved olive groves, Andrea actively and significantly contributed since 2019 to the successful achievement of some of the most important LIVINGAGRO results, with particular reference to the analysis of policies on Mediterranean agroforestry systems, and technology transfer in the MENA area through cross-border cooperation.
The whole LIVINGAGRO consortium together with all the friends and colleagues wishes Andrea final peace and rest, remembering his extraordinary kindness as well as his commitment, competence and passion in carrying out his research activity.
To his family and friends, the hope that they will be supported in their grief by the happy memories of their lives together.
“Ciao caro Andrea, è stato bello condividere questo pezzo di strada con te, grazie per quello che hai fatto per noi e per il progetto LIVINGAGRO, ci mancherai, riposa in pace”.
3rd edition of the Mediterranean Youth Academy in Barcelona
Environment living labs
The 3rd edition of the Mediterranean Youth Academy – MYA will be held from 6 to 9 of November 2023 in Barcelona, back-to-back with the High-Level Launch Event of the UfM Youth Action Plan. Young people from the Euro-Mediterranean region are encouraged to apply to secure attendance.
The mission of the MYA is to qualify and prepare selected young people from the Euro-Mediterranean area through interactive, bottom-up training programs focused on issues that are relevant to the region. The overall goal is to enhance the participation of young people in the decision and policy-making processes empowering them as active changemakers.
The 3rd edition of the MYA is co-organised by the Union for the Mediterranean – UfM and the Mediterranean Youth Foundation for Development – MYF with the support of the German Development Cooperation. The program aims at promoting awareness and involving youth in response to Mediterranean issues and challenges related to three thematic clusters: Climate Change & Climate Justice, Social Inclusion, Youth Employment. Participants will have the unique chance to attend thematic non-formal education training sessions and high-level panels. Furthermore, they will be encouraged to propose youth-related initiatives that would possibly receive, at a further stage, implementation support by the MYF.
To be eligible, applicants must:
- Be between 18 and 29 years old by the time of the application submission.
- Be nationals of one of the UfM Member States.
- By the time of the application submission, have a valid travel document.
- Have an Intermediate level of English.
- Have the availability to follow the MYA for the full four days (6-9 November 2023).
- Have previous knowledge or experience in one or more of the three MYA Thematic Clusters.
Interested applicants must fill out the online application form by no later than 31st of May 2023, 23:59 CEST. Applications received after the deadline will be automatically rejected.
An integrated Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems solution to benefit farms in Salt Governorate in Jordan
Environment living labs
The Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus represents an effective approach to addressing the climate change crisis that is casting its shadow on Jordan with recurrent droughts and rising temperatures. This interconnectedness was translated into action by the MENA Water Matchmaker II project which was implemented by the GWP-Med and funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the UfM in Jordan and Palestine, in a cross-country context.
At the core of the MENA Water Matchmaker 2 project is the implementation of two demonstrable and scalable technical WEFE Nexus interventions in Jordan and Palestine whereby the treated wastewater which flows into the Wadis is pumped using renewable solar energy to irrigate nearby farmlands. The MENA Water Matchmaker 2 Project has aimed to prove, hence, through piloting, the integrated concept of applying local WEFE Nexus technical solutions while capacitating beneficiary groups on employment options, offering measurable and scalable contributions for further application in MENA countries.
Local farmers, women in the water sector association and several scientific and management institutions have been part of this inauguration and will be the recipients of a training programme that aims at showcasing nature-based solutions for water treatment and irrigation reuse, powered by renewable energy.
Read the full article here
Greece to Overtake Italy as Europe’s Second-Largest Olive Oil Producer
New pessimistic olive oil production estimates from Italy indicate the harvest could fall by as much as 120,000 tons, 37 percent, compared to last year. The result may be even worse if the research conducted by the Italian Institute for the Agricultural and Food Market of Ismea at the beginning of November is accurate. According to this research, production in the 2022/23 crop year is estimated at 208,000 tons, which would see Italy fall from the second to the third largest olive oil producer in Europe.
Read the full article here
Over half of forest cover lost since Turkish takeover of Syria’s Afrin: report
In the press
58 percent of forests in Afrin (Efrîn) have been lost since Turkey took control of the northwest Syrian region in 2018, according to a report released last week by a Netherlands-based peace organisation, PAX.
The in-depth scientific study by the Dutch peace initiative, based on satellite analysis and open-source research, highlights conflict-linked tree loss in Syria between 2018 and 2020. Unregulated logging affected over 36 percent of western forested areas, as well as nearly 60 percent in the north where armed groups were a main driver for the heavy logging of natural forests, said PAX.
After Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in 2018, the Kurdish region of Afrin had one of the highest rates of forest loss in Syria, the research shows. During the cross- border military operation, the Turkish Armed Forces and factions known as the Syrian National Army (SNA) took control of the Afrin region and drove out the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The intense forest loss in Afrin was caused by Turkish-backed militants engaging in the lumber trade, the Turkish Armed Forces logging for the construction of outposts, and an influx of internally displaced persons from other areas who needed a supply of wood, according to PAX.
The Turkish military cut down hundreds of trees in the process of outpost construction amidst orchards, for fire-line clearance and as a building material for the bases.
Incoming internally displaced persons were resettled in woodlands, and they cut down the trees for firewood and housing. As a result, a small park overlooking the city of Afrin largely disappeared. The settlers were Kurdish civilians, displaced by the incursion of Turkish-backed rebels into the region.
The findings clearly show that in Afrin, deforestation had intensified by 2020. Between 2018 and 2021, 43 percent of the Afrin region was deforested.
Various militias have been involved in the logging, sales and export of lumber from Afrin and the surrounding countryside since the area came under the control of Turkish-backed Syrian factions, said the report, entitled ‘Axed and Burned’. By October 2021, 58 percent of forest cover had been affected by cutting and land clearing.
Over the last seven years, two areas in particular have seen dramatic deforestation levels: Jabal al Kurd, a mountain range on the border with Turkey, and Barsaya, a mountain range northwest of the city, the research identified.
PAX stressed that international institutions must make a coordinated plan to tackle forest loss in war-stricken Syria and highlighted that living conditions and socio-economic prospects in the country are worsened by the conflict-linked environmental degradation.
Source: Medya News
Featured image caption: Not indicated.
Caption image 1: The Turkish military cut down hundreds of trees in the process of outpost construction amidst orchards.
Caption image 2: Incoming internally displaced persons were resettled in woodlands, and they cut down the trees for firewood and housing
How 12 Years of War Destroyed Syria’s Forests
In the press
by Robert Postings March 28, 2023 in Politics & Foreign Affairs
Syria’s forests have been another casualty in the 12 years of war that has gripped the country according to a new report. The destruction of natural resources and damage to ecosystems has potentially severe consequences for the lives, livelihoods and future of Syrian citizens — as well as for the country’s climate resilience.
The “Axed and Burned” report is produced by Pax for Peace, a Netherlands-based organisation dedicated to protecting civilians against acts of war, to ending armed violence and to building inclusive peace. The report was based on satellite analysis and open-source research.
Speaking to Impakter, one of the report’s authors Wim Zwijnenburg expressed how devastating the loss of forests has been:
“The 12-year war had grave consequences for the last remaining forests in Syria and communities depending on them.”
Since peaceful protests against Syria’s dictator President Bashar Hafez al-Assad in 2011 were met with violence and the country spiralled into civil war, an estimated 306,000 civilians have been killed and 13 million are displaced.
As well as the terrible human suffering, Syria has faced awful ecological and environmental consequences. One particularly alarming is the loss of forest cover caused by the war.
Syria’s coastal western provinces contained much of the country’s natural forests, while in the north-western Idlib and Aleppo provinces there were large olive and fruit orchids. Over the course of the war all these areas have lost massive amounts of tree cover due to increasing energy prices, bombing, wildfires, and the war economy.
According to the report, from 2011 to 2021 the governorates of Latakia, Hama, Homs and Idlib lost 45,320 hectares of tree cover — more than 36%. There was a rapid increase in deforestation in 2020 and 2021. Some of these areas are controlled by the Syrian government, others by various rebel groups.
In Idlib, which is primarily rebel-controlled, some of the destruction was due to clearing forests to make room for internally displaced people to live.
The Afrin region of Northern Aleppo, a Kurdish area that for much of the war was controlled by the Kurdish YPG independent from the government or rebels, also saw massive deforestation. Afrin was famous for its olive trees, but since being captured by the rebel Syrian National Army backed by Turkey in Operation Olive Branch in 2018, huge swathes have been cut down.
Analysis for the report shows that in the Kurd mountains area of Afrin, 56% of the 4,750 hectares of forest cover was lost between December 2015 and 2021.
In the mount Basra area, over 59% was cut down. In some areas entire forests were felled in their entirety.
Local reporting suggests that some of the various rebel groups that are part of the Turkish-backed SNA are involved in the logging and sale of trees, with a rapid increase in deforestation after rebel factions took control of the area.
Poverty has also been a major factor. With 90% of people living below the poverty line and the Syrian pound losing approximately 98% of its value, charcoal and firewood have become an essential lifeline for those who cannot afford alternative fuels or as a way to make a living.
“In the west and northwest of Syria, massive amounts of trees were logged for firewood or charcoals, leaving complete mountains barren,” Zwijnenburg tells us.
The cost of firewood has risen from 6,000 Syrian Pounds per ton pre-war to reportedly around one million by 2022, making it lucrative for individuals, criminals, or militias.
Forest fires — caused by arson, natural reasons, or conflict — as well as military operations and the widespread breakdown in governance after years of war have all also contributed to the loss.
In Idlib and Aleppo forests have been cleared to allow room for settlements of internally displaced people.
Rural areas were not alone in forest loss. The fighting and sieges in cities across Syria that caused so much death and destruction also affected urban forests, with trees destroyed by fighting or cut down by residents who needed fuel that was unavailable to them.
As Zwijnenburg explains, “[t]he environmental impacts of conflict have direct and long-term consequences for civilians and ecosystems they depend on.”
Forest ecosystems play a critical role for local communities and society. While wood itself and agricultural products are essential for livelihoods, beyond this, forests have essential ecological benefits. They provide watershed protection, such as moderating flooding and preventing erosion, as well as helping to mitigate climate change and preserve Syria’s biodiversity.
The effect on agriculture is certain to worsen Syria’s current food insecurity and the livelihoods of orchard farmers. In urban areas in particular the loss of trees will also worsen air quality.
Wim Zwijnenburg, Pax for Peace researcher and one of the report’s authors, finds that better research on the environmental effects of war can have a positive impact. He hopes that “through better analysis with remote sensing and open-source investigations of specific impacts, the international community and relevant authorities can prepare faster and more efficient responses that will help prevent, minimize and mitigate these environmental consequences.”
“This can help communities to work on rebuilding their lives in a healthy environment,” Zwijnenburg asserts.
Caption: © OCHA/Halldorsson
In Lebanon’s first ever climate journalism courses, young reporters learn how to convey the urgency of a warming planet
In the press
By Elizabeth Zach
In the region just an hour’s drive southeast of Beirut, Karem Monzer grew up amid a virgin forest of oak, olive and cedar trees stretching across hills to the horizon. Here in the village of Gharifeh, on the slopes of Mount Lebanon, there are fewer than 10,000 residents, just two schools – one private, one public – and the region is known for its olive oil, which the Romans originally cultivated.
Yet this pastoral existence is threatened by Lebanon’s changing climate. Fires have ripped through both countryside and nearby urban areas and water supplies for both residents and farmers are in constant peril, as is appropriate disposal of waste and wastewater.
As a university student, Karem quickly realized that in a country like Lebanon – which in 2019 was in the throes of revolution and is today sinking under the weight of economic and political dysfunction – there would never be a shortage of stories to find and tell. Upon completing studies in film, media, communication arts and journalism, he produced videos, including on Syrian refugees and, last year, he reported on world hunger from COP27 in Egypt. He works for Beirut Today, an independent news outlet.
Seeing the underlying problem: climate change
“I think it was at COP27 that I saw there was even more I could report on,” he said. “I was interviewing World Health Organization managers, and people with the International Red Cross, and I could see that hunger related to bigger problems, namely climate change.”
Shortly later, Karem, now 27, heard about a series of journalism courses that would help him decipher and report on those bigger problems. This month, he joined other young journalists in Beirut for lectures and hands-on instruction by climate scientists in Lebanon’s new – and so far only – environmental journalism training in Arabic.
The class, funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) under its GKI crisis initiative and organized by DW Akademie, allows young journalists to learn both science coverage basics and how best to reach readers and viewers across multimedia platforms. Participants spend time on key local issues, such as air pollution, waste, sewage and land use. They practice with targeted online searches, fact-checking and understanding data. Their work is ultimately destined for Lebanese media.
“When we started training in science journalism in Lebanon in 2021,” said Audrey Parmentier, DW Akademie project manager in the Middle East and North Africa for media development, “it became very clear that journalists needed more specific knowledge on reporting about climate change.”
Understanding – and explaining – climate change
She and her colleagues therefore called on journalists and students, as well as scientists, academics, editors-in-chief and Lebanese citizens to brainstorm. Not only, she added, was an effective curriculum a goal but rather to broaden the reporting and job skills of younger journalists and teach them how to both understand and explain the many environmental threats out there.
“Environmental topics are still underrepresented in the Lebanese media and in public discourse,” she said, noting that qualified young media professionals can have better access to jobs when they are skilled in explaining complex topics such as climate change.
“With the skills and fundamentals we offer,” she said, “we want to improve the circumstances of starting a career. Both journalism and scientific skills are greatly in demand in newsrooms.”
Reporting on how climate change affects life
Feryal Dakkak, age 22, said she knew that by enrolling in the courses, she would learn skills she didn’t, or couldn’t, while at university, where she majored in broadcast journalism on a research track. She is a freelance journalist, video editor and marketing manager in Dubai.
“From sourcing to fact-checking and now mobile journalism,” she listed from among the courses topics. “As you know, college courses are always more theoretical than practical.”
She added that she is less compelled to report on Lebanese politics and is more drawn toward drawing the connection between climate change and life in Lebanon itself. In the courses, her focus is on unregulated tree felling for economic benefit in Lebanon.
“It is crucial to be able to explain how human activity contributes to problems like deforestation and biodiversity loss,” Feryal said.
Meanwhile, Karem’s project looks at solar panel waste after the battery dies.
“Lebanon’s solar revolution came out of severe power cuts,” he explained. “People were eager for decentralized, private and independent solar solutions. This included Chinese, Indian and Turkish acid-based batteries, with a five-year life, alongside lithium batteries that last up to 10 years. What happens when they die, though? How can Lebanon address this?”
It makes him think about his childhood home near Mount Lebanon changing, perhaps irreversibly.
“It’s one of the most beautiful areas in Lebanon,” he said. “But the forest fires and deforestation and loss of water […] these are problems that I can see. It’s not just something I’m learning [about], and it’s not fake. And if I think concretely about alternative energy, like solar panels, so that people don’t have to cut trees for wood, and about recycling wastewater rather than the general idea of carbon emissions – constructive ideas – then I’m motivated to report that.”
Caption1: Karem Monzer, a Lebanese journalist, has reported on world hunger and politics. He’s now participating in climate journalism courses where he is reporting on clean disposal of solar batteries.
Caption2: In the climate journalism courses, the first of their kind in Lebanon, Feryal Dakkak is learning practical tools for science reporting that she says she could not learn in a standard journalism curriculum.
Effect of soil management and different cover crops on soil, olives and olive oil characteristics
The fruitful collaboration between the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute and the Faculty of Agriculture of the Lebanese University (LU) within the LIVINGAGRO Project led to the establishment of a field trial to assess the effect of soil management and different cover crops on soil characteristics, olive production and olive oil characteristics. The experiment was established in November 2020 at the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI)-Abdeh station (Akkar, Lebanon).
The main objectives of this trial were:
- Assessing the effect of soil management and different cover crops on soil characteristics in order to reduce alternate bearing behavior in “Baladi” olive tree, and improve productivity and oil yield and quality.
- Increasing farmers’ income through multiple cropping.
The experiment consisted of five treatments and six replicates (trees):
- Faba beans (Vicia faba);
- Broccoli (Brassica oleracea italica);
- Mixture Barley (Hordeum vulgare) + Vetch (Vicia sativa);
- Fertilizers + Herbicide;
- Spontaneous vegetation.
Preliminary results showed an increase in soil mineral nitrogen and organic matter content only in the Faba beans (Vicia faba) and in the mixture Barley (Hordeum vulgare) + Vetch (Vicia sativa) treatments. In the spontaneous vegetation treatment just an increase in organic matter was observed. In case of broccoli treatment, only slight increase in organic matter was observed possibly due to the fact that the consumable part of the plants were harvested for human consumption and the remaining part was introduced to the soil because of its positive effect against Verticillium disease.
On the other hand, the experiment showed that farmers may increase their income through selling the additional crops such as fresh Faba beans and Broccoli. For instance, an average production of fresh Faba beans can reach about 10 000 Kg/ha sold at a price of 1USD/Kg when harvested at early spring (as in this region, these crops mature very early). Then, the remaining part of the plant should be introduced to the soil. As per broccoli, an average production of 20 000 kg/ha could be reached and sold at a price of 1 USD/kg.
In conclusion, the adoption of cover crops as a soil management practice can be considered as a good practice to improve the soil composition and increase its fertility, especially by increasing the percentage of organic matter and the amount of nitrogen. In addition, this practice can be considered as a feasible way to reach sustainability in many olive orchards on a long-term basis and to increase farmer’s income through the introduction of new crops in their orchards.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Dr. Milad EL RIACHY. Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI). Department of Olive and Olive Oil. Tal Amara, Bekaa, Lebanon Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The LIVINGAGRO project is looking for a subcontractor to deliver multiple services
The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (CIHEAM-MAICh), Partner n. 4 of LIVINGAGRO project, is looking for a subcontractor for the following services:
• Training on Innovative enterprise creation in Lebanon
Maximum budget: 42.500 € (including VAT)
• Training on Innovative enterprise creation in Jordan
Maximum budget: 42.500 € (including VAT)
• Precompetitive Analysis of 10 promising products and services LL1
Maximum budget: 24.205 € (including VAT)
• Precompetitive Analysis of 10 promising products and services LL2
Maximum budget: 24.205 € (including VAT)
• Platform of services for the Living Laboratory “Agroforestry for Multifunctional Olive System” LL1 and the Living Laboratory “Agroforestry for Grazed Woodlands” LL2
Maximum budget: 28.170,80 € (including VAT)
Deadline for applications by subcontractors: 07-03-2023
Application procedure: For further information concerning minimum requirements, procedural issues and selection method please refer to the public notice published on MAICh’s website (Greek).
Registration open for Multifunctional Olive Systems’ third B2B event
agroforestry Lebanon living labs Press release
The Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI), the Regional Forest Agency for Land and Environment of Sardinia (Fo.Re.S.T.A.S.) and the whole LIVINGAGRO Consortium are pleased to announce the opening of registration for the Third B2B event on Multifunctional Olive Systems in Beirut – Lebanon.
Following the success of the previous events, stakeholders in the agroforestry sector eagerly await the third B2B symposium scheduled to take place on the 16th of February 2023 at the Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand. The organizers of the Third B2B event on Multifunctional Olive Systems extended an open invitation to farmers, entrepreneurs, local administrators, researchers, private companies, policy makers and multiple stakeholders in Lebanon interested in agroforestry issues, especially in the field of multifunctional olive systems, to register for this unique opportunity where they can share innovative technologies, initiate cross border co–operations and find new business partners in the Mediterranean region.
A distinguished panel of acclaimed speakers will be participating in a series of onsite and online seminars and open discussions. For more specific in–depth discussions, the event also offers the chance for participants to request one–on–one business meetings with innovators and LIVINGAGRO Consortium representatives.
The event is designed to underscore state–of–the–art innovations and the most workable high–tech solutions aimed to maximize profitability, sustainability, and biodiversity, taking into consideration the challenges that economic stakeholders and operators of the sector are facing, mainly limited resources and environmental constraints.
Stakeholders interested to attend are invited to check the detailed program leaflet of the event and register for their in–person or online participation via this link: https://livingagrolab.eu/event/third–b2b–event–on–multifunctional–olive–
systems–in–beirut–lebanon/ before the 13th of February 2023.
The Cross Border Living Laboratories for Agroforestry (LIVINGAGRO) Project is co–funded by the European Union
through the ENI CBC Med Programme 2014 – 2020 and implemented in Italy, Greece, Lebanon and Jordan. The project
aims to support education, research and development, innovation, and technology transfer, including sharing of research results, by establishing two Living Labs, one for multifunctional olive systems (Living Lab 1) and the other for grazed woodlands (Living Lab 2).
For more information on the project, please contact: email@example.com
For questions about registration, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Türkiye’s Hatay turns green following afforestation efforts
In the press
By Daily Sabah with AA Istanbul Jan 30, 2023 – 2:27 PM GMT+3
The area of 9,000 hectares (22,239 acres) damaged in forest fires in Türkiye’s southern province of Hatay started regaining its green appearance with the growth of planted saplings.
Afforestation efforts were carried out in the area affected by fires from 2012 to 2022 in Antakya, Iskenderun, Hassa, Kırıkhan, Altınözü, Samandağ, Belen, Defne and Dörtyol districts.
The teams of Hatay Regional Directorate of Forestry, which carry out cleaning and terracing processes in the region, planted red pine, olive, almond, walnut, pine and laurel saplings to revive the nature that was turned to ash during wildfires.
As a result of the work carried out by the teams to erase traces of wildfires, the forest areas revived and turned green with the planted saplings, of which some exceeded a height of 1 meter (3.37 feet).
Ali Özdemir, Hatay Forestry regional manager, emphasized the importance of the Amanos mountains, one of the areas affected by the fires, and said, “Amanos is an important region in terms of biodiversity. This place contains a variety of around 1,250 diverse plants, 25% of which is endemic.”
He also explained they are working to make more areas, under their jurisdiction, green and noted that they produce saplings in Serinyol Forest Nursery Directorate.
Stating that afforestation was carried out on a total area of 15,000 hectares, including 9,000 hectares damaged in forest fires, Özdemir continued, ”Last year, 1.17 million saplings were planted in an area of 1,180 hectares. I hope this year we will exceed our targets and carry out afforestation in wider areas.”
Özdemir stated that they planted saplings such as red pine in the high altitude areas and olive, almond and walnut saplings in the areas close to the settlements for their economic value and pledged, “Our struggle for the afforestation of more areas in our region will continue with determination.”
Source: Daily Sabah
Caption: Afforestation works were carried out in Antakya, Iskenderun, Hassa, Kırıkhan, Altınözü, Samandağ, Belen, Defne and Dörtyol districts, Hatay province, southern Türkiye, Jan. 30, 2023. (AA Photo)
Olive Production Center of Gravity Moves Eastward
In the press
By Daniel Dawson Dec. 12, 2022 14:56 UTC
The 2022 olive harvest is in full swing in the northern hemisphere and has been full of surprises.
Western European and North African countries that suffered from record-breaking droughts and sweltering heatwaves all have reported substantial production declines.
Meanwhile, producers in the Middle East are reporting record-high or near-record harvests, partially attributed to plentiful rainfall at timely moments during olive tree development and mild spring and autumn temperatures.
Easily the biggest surprises of the harvest come from Turkey and Spain. Officials anticipate a record-smashing 400,000-ton harvest in the former, while the latter is set for its lowest harvest in nearly a decade.
Along with eclipsing previous records, this harvest temporarily places Turkey as the second-largest olive oil-producing country behind Spain.
However, Turkey is far from the only country in the Eastern Mediterranean anticipating a bumper crop. Producers in Greece, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria expect bountiful harvests.
Conversely, on the western end of the basin, producers in Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco, Portugal and Tunisia are similarly bracing for poor harvests.
Harvest estimates for the 2022/23 crop year analyzed by Olive Oil Times indicate that production in the Western Mediterranean will be significantly lower than last year and well below the rolling five-year average.
Olive Oil Times estimates that these six countries in the Western Mediterranean might combine to produce 1.46 million tons of olive oil this year, well below the 2.32 million tons produced by the same bloc in 2021/22 and the 2.27-million-ton rolling five-year average.
On the other hand, five countries in the Eastern Mediterranean – Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria (the latest figures for Israel and Palestine were unavailable at the time of writing) – might combine to produce 881,000 tons in the current crop year.
Conversely, this figure significantly exceeds the 602,000 tons produced in the last crop year and the rolling five-year average of 648,300 tons.
While it may be tempting to conclude that the center of gravity in the olive-growing world is moving east, the reality is a bit more complex.
Experts who monitor global olive oil production believe that this year’s bumper crops across the Eastern Mediterranean and the substantial drop in the west is partially coincidental and partly the result of this year’s unusual climate.
The mild and wet weather in the Eastern Mediterranean that many growers credit with helping olive trees produce abundant fruit is widely considered an anomaly. Overall, the average annual temperature in the Middle East is rising twice as fast as the global average.
According to research from the Italian Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development (ENEA), a 1.8 ºC increase in average global temperatures above the pre-industrial average would result in substantial decreases in Middle Eastern and North African olive production from 2041 to 2050 relative to the 1961 to 1970 average.
On the other hand, production in Turkey and Europe would be far less affected, with some countries projected to experience steady production or even slight increases based on a 1.8 ºC temperature rise scenario.
Water stress is also expected to become worse across the Middle East. According to the World Resources Institute, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan are among the six most water-stressed countries and states on Earth.
Many other major Mediterranean olive oil-producing countries are also expected to experience high, though less extreme, levels of water stress.
While olive oil production in Israel, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria is likely to regress to the mean next year when a number of the olive groves in these countries enter an ‘off-year’ in the alternate bearing cycle of the olive tree, Turkey will likely sustain its upward production trend.
Experts partially attributed the country’s record-breaking harvest to sustained efforts to plant 68 to 96 million trees since 2007. This year was the first in which many of these trees entered maturity.
In the Western Mediterranean, temperatures also are expected to rise faster than the global average.
Exorbitantly high temperatures across Western Mediterranean olive groves in May and June damaged some trees during the blossoming phase, resulting in lower fruition levels.
The hot spring was followed by sustained drought. Europe experienced its most severe drought of the past 500 years. Growers in North Africa experienced a similar situation.
Furthermore, water shortages compounded the impacts of the drought and forced many trees to drop or desiccate their olives to save water.
However, meteorologists at AccuWeather, a weather data and technology company, predicted that Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and the Balkan Peninsula would all receive plenty of rain and snow this winter.
While the precipitation is unlikely to eliminate the water deficits created by the drought, olive trees and growers may be in a better position to cope with another hot and dry summer than they were after the abnormally dry winter and spring experienced this year.
Away from the climate, the type of olive groves predominant in each country is also expected to impact production figures.
Western Mediterranean countries, including Portugal and Algeria, are expected to see production rise steadily in the long run due to efforts to plant more trees at higher densities.
High-density (intensive) and super-high-density (super-intensive) olive groves lower production costs and, when managed well, mitigate the impacts of the natural alternate bearing cycle of the olive tree due to consistent pruning and a steady stream of fertigation at the most critical points in tree and drupe development.
As a result, countries with higher percentages of these groves are likely to see steady production increases with fewer climate-related dips and limited effects from ‘off-years.’
The aforementioned ENEA research also indicated that countries with high-density and super-high-density olive groves would see limited production decreases or even modest increases with 1.8 ºC of warming.
Production will likely continue to rise steadily in many Western Mediterranean countries where these types of olive groves are more common.
In the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey and Egypt (where harvest data was also unavailable for 2022) are the main countries growing olive trees intensively on a large scale.
While Turkey is the exception to long-term olive oil production trends in the Eastern Mediterranean, Italy is similarly an anomaly to Westen Mediterranean production trends.
The unabated spread of Xylella fastidiosa, a deadly olive tree bacteria, and a growing emphasis on quality over quantity have changed the country’s fundamental production paradigm.
Production is likely to recover from this year’s meager yield but is unlikely to reach the heights of the early 2000s when 600,000 tons of olive oil production was the norm.
Based on the prevailing climatic and agricultural trends, the outsized role of Eastern Mediterranean olive oil production compared to the Western Mediterranean appears to be an anomaly in 2022/23.
Indeed, some experts anticipate that organic and traditional olive groves will steadily move north as North Africa and Southern Europe become hotter and drier.
With the heads of France’s leading champagne houses buying land in the south of England, it may not be long before leading olive oil producers begin to follow suit.
Source: Olive Oil Times
Caption: Not indicated.
Special Issue on “Agronomical, Phenotypical and Biochemical Evaluation of Olive”
The cultivated olive (Olea europaea L.) is one of the most representative and economically important crops in the Mediterranean region. The olive sector is currently experiencing a profound crisis due to the ever-changing environmental and climatic conditions and new phytosanitary emergencies. From this perspective derives the urgency to have alternative olive varieties that are resilient, adapted and plastic, and able to guarantee early fruiting and entry into production, as well as plant architecture suitable for fully mechanizing olive harvesting and pruning, low susceptibility to parasites and harmful pathogens, high productivity and oil yield, high content of secondary bioactive compounds, and high nutritional and sensory quality of olive oil.
Due to the prevalent out-crossing nature of the species, the olive still
has a certain genetic variability to exploit in breeding programs. Accurate prospecting of olive-growing areas could highlight the presence of ancient, or wild olive trees, not traced back to previously cataloged varieties. In addition, it is possible to develop new varieties of olive trees starting from the crossing between known and genetically compatible genotypes to introduce improving characteristics.
This Special Issue, lead by Dr. Valentina Passeri from the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and member of the LIVINGAGRO consortium, welcomes scientific articles concerning the evaluation and selection of olive tree genotypes through agronomic, physiological, biochemical, and technological approaches in order to build a multidisciplinary network for a modern, more biodiverse, and competitive olive growing, with an increase in environmental sustainability and the safeguarding of product quality.
Submissions are open until the 31st of July 2023.
More information on the Special Issue here
Last days to register for the second B2B event on Multifunctional Olive Systems in Lebanon
Register now to join the many farmers, decision makers, researchers and private sector representatives who will participate in the event on November 15 at Gefinor Rotana Hotel in Beirut, from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM local time.
Innovators from Italy, Greece and Lebanon will present their research on innovations to support olive growing and olive oil production in Lebanon and throughout the Mediterranean region. This event continues the knowledge sharing that began at the first B2B event in July. As in July, a catalogue of innovations will be distributed to all attendees; it will be available online on the ICT platform of the LIVINGAGRO Project (https://livingagrolab.eu/).
During the November event, attendees from various backgrounds will have a chance to participate in two roundtables and discuss with innovators possible collaborations and possibilities for applying new ideas to their business. LIVINGAGRO brokerage events aim to promote collaborations, market opportunities, and agreements between researchers and businesspeople.
This event will be broadcast live in Arabic and English in order to allow stakeholders who are unable to participate in person to take part virtually. Those who wish to follow it online should also register for the free event.
This B2B event is part of the “Cross Border Living Laboratories for Agroforestry – LIVINGAGRO” project funded by the European Union through the ENI CBC Med Programme and organized by the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICH) – Greece.
For information and registration:
First Brokerage event on Grazed Woodlands in Lebanon
The first event on Grazed Woodlands (LL2) took place at Hotel Le Royal Dbayeh on the 5th of October, 2022. This event was organized by the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) with the support of the Regional Forest Agency for Land and Environment of Sardinia (Forestas).
The objectives of the B2B (https://livingagrolab.eu/event/innovations-for-grazed-woodlands/) event were:
– Connecting innovators with stakeholders in the grazed woodland sector to work on solutions for their problems;
– Matching demands/requests for innovations;
– Releasing and disseminating of a catalogue of available innovations;
– Introducing innovations in the grazed woodlands and agroforestry sectors to producers, cooperatives, agricultural enterprises, company representatives, and other interested stakeholders;
– Laying the foundations for future innovation projects by providing an opportunity for businesses, associations, research institutions, policy makers and other professionals in agriculture and food production to meet;
– Allowing the establishment of new contacts and the sharing of information on innovative ideas, machinery, techniques and services.
During this event, on-site and online innovations were presented by a professional panel of local and foreign speakers, revolving around the latest scientific research and innovations related to grazed woodlands that contribute to the development of the sector.
The main topics of the event included adaptive grazing management; reconciling grazing with trees; seed mixtures for quality pasture; shade tolerant species that could be used in grazed woodlands; remote sensing techniques to monitor oak forests; thinning and pruning trees in silvopastoral systems; land imprinter for rangelands rehabilitation coupled with rangeland species seeder; and, hydroponic system to produce fodder.
In the afternoon, two round tables were organized. The first one related to grazed woodlands where there was space of conversation and discussion between speakers and participants who had the chance to share, with their perspectives, experiences and point of views, to enrich an open debate on several issues ranging from the problems on land ownership to the serious environmental issues concerning climate change. The second round table was related to forest management; where, the active participation of the attendees also continued and other concerns and issues came up from the participants among which the Lebanese laws governing the forest sector in general and those related to grazing in the Lebanese forests.
The audience conducted the discussion on several problems that affect nowadays all the actors involved in Lebanon, from the farmers to the policy makers.
There have been 61 registrations through the online form; 16 of which for online participation and the other 45 for onsite participation. The English live streaming reached 85 viewers and the Arabic one reached 69 viewers including farmers, entrepreneurs, local administrators, researchers, private companies, policy makers and multiple stakeholders interested in agroforestry in the field of grazed woodlands.
Join the ICT platform at the following link www.livingagrolab.eu to register to the living labs on agroforestry.
Innovations for grazed woodlands
With the aim of supporting farmers, entrepreneurs, local administrators, researchers, private companies, policy makers and stakeholders in Lebanon interested in agroforestry issues, especially in the field of grazed woodlands, the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) held the B2B event “Innovations for grazed woodlands”, at the Hotel Le Royal Dbayeh in Beirut, Lebanon. This event was organized in collaboration with the Forest Agency for Land and Environment of Sardinia (FoReSTAS) and planned in the framework of the project “Cross Border Living Laboratories for Agroforestry – LIVINGAGRO”, co-funded by the European Union through the ENI CBC Med Programme.
This one-day business-to-business event aimed at supporting education, research and development, innovation, technology transfer as well as publishing and marketing of research results, offering a major opportunity for farmers, entrepreneurs, local administrators, researchers, private companies and policy makers interested in agroforestry issues, especially in the field of grazed woodlands in Lebanon, to set the framework for a long-term constructive cooperation among stakeholders.
In a meeting on the sidelines of the workshop, the manager of the LIVINGAGRO project on behalf of LARI, agricultural engineer Dr. Peter Moubarak, stated that work on this project has been underway for three years, with one more year left to complete the phase related to the Middle East region and Southern Europe. Dr. Moubarak pointed out to the existing cooperation between stakeholders aiming to design and implement state-of-the-art innovations as well as technology transfer, and publishing and marketing of research results, which includes agroforestry issues especially in the field of grazed woodlands alongside matters related to the olive cultivation as an essential part of the project.
Regarding cooperation prospects with interested stakeholders, Dr. Moubarak confirmed the collaboration with related ministries and research centers, highlighting several agreements signed with private universities, including the Saint Joseph University, LIU University and the Lebanese University as part of the project, in addition to cooperation with the municipalities. Dr. Moubarak concluded by stressing on the fact that the main goal of the project is to create a network of stakeholders interested in agroforestry sector which would strengthen cooperation frameworks with foreign parties as well as improve production, inviting farmers and stakeholders to visit the site of the project, where they can benefit from shared insights and experiences on different topics and innovations related to agroforestry that contribute to the development of the sector. Dr. Moubarak confirmed that preparations are in progress for a third workshop that will be organized soon.
Agricultural engineer Georges Hassoun, a specialist in food processing, also praised the importance of this project especially in terms of classification and production quality, hoping to achieve positive outcomes.
Agricultural engineer Imad Hamza, a former professor at the American University, emphasized the importance of the workshop in tackling the topic of grazed woodlands and agroforestry, which is rarely raised despite its great significance, and aspired for the implementation of practical research.
Mr. Rony Francis, President of the Bchaaleh Agricultural Cooperative, expressed his appreciation of the workshop’s organization in general, underscoring the importance of the topics raised, especially regarding the ways Lebanese farmers can benefit from the expertise of their European counterparts. Mr. Francis also stated that the anticipated results depend on the personal diligence of each farmer.
Stressing on the importance of collective work to develop agriculture and protect forests and grazed woodlands in Lebanon, agricultural engineer Sophie Mansour, a specialist in agroforestry, regarded the exchange of knowledge and research between the participating countries as an advantage for their mutual sustainable development.
Also commenting on the conference, Italian agricultural engineer Dr. Antonello Franca highlighted the importance of exchanging experiences and sharing insights among the participants to benefit from their mutual experiences in order to develop their agricultural work, especially since they come from different countries and environments. “It’s an opportunity for us to study how climate change is affecting grazed woodlands, and we also need to further develop our work to face the decrease of the agroforestry fields”, he added. Dr. Franca emphasized that the advantage of the conference is to organize and benefit from mutual experiences, in addition to identify new innovations that can be implemented to improve agriculture in grazed woodlands. Dr. Franca is a researcher at the National Research Council in Italy and a member at the Institute for Institute for Animal Production System in Mediterranean Environment ISPAAM in Sardinia, he works as well for the LIVINGAGRO project studying the impact of grazing on the grazed woodlands in the Mediterranean region.
Cooperation agreement between LARI, the Lebanese International Univeristy and Al Manara Dairy in the framework of the project LIVINGAGRO
Within the framework of the Cross Border Living Laboratories for Agroforestry (LIVINGAGRO) Project, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI), the Lebanese International University (LIU) and Manara Dairy on the 21st of Spetember 2022. The agreement was signed by the President General Director of LARI Dr. Michel Afram, the assistant Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at LIU Dr. Sami El Khatib and the CEO of Manara Dairy Mr. Said Abou Ghneim.
The subject of this collaboration is the implementation and conduction of experimental trials in order to develop innovations and supply services that can support the dairy sector in Lebanon in general and Manara Dairy in particular.
The first experiment will be based on the use of Syrian sumac (Rhus coriaria) as a natural preservative in olives curing for the preparation of high quality, healthy table olives. The second experiment will focus on the development and characterization of Ayran drink supplemented with thymol, the essential oil from Thyme plant (Thymus vulgaris). In fact, Syrian sumac is a flowering plant with reddish berries that has a pleasant mix of sour, sweet, salty and bitter flavors and that are ground into a coarse powder that bursts with color and flavor. Sumac is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices out there. It’s packed with antioxidants and has the ability to neutralize free radicals that can cause cancer, heart disease, and signs of aging. Studies have shown that daily intake of sumac for three months will lower the risk of cardiovascular disease among people with type 2 diabetes. As per the thyme plant which is an aromatic herb commonly used to flavor foods and as medicine. Thyme contains chemicals that might help bacterial and fungal infections. It also might help relieve coughing and have antioxidant effects. Sumac and thyme plants are widely present in Lebanese grazed woodlands.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Dr. Milad EL RIACHY. Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI). Department of Olive and Olive Oil. Tal Amara, Bekaa, Lebanon. Email: email@example.com
Second Lebanese B2B Event on Innovations for Grazed Woodlands
On the 5th of October 2022, the grazed woodlands sectors in Lebanon will benefit from the first B2B event organized by The Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI), in collaboration with the Forest Agency for Land and Environment of Sardinia (FoReSTAS), within the Cross Border Living Laboratories for Agroforestry (LIVINGAGRO) project funded by the European Union through the ENI CBC Med Programme and implemented in Italy, Lebanon, Greece and Jordan. Titled “B2B Event – Innovations for Grazed Woodlands”, this symposium aims to support education, research and development, innovation, technology transfer, and publishing and marketing research results.
Farmers, entrepreneurs, local administrators, researchers, private companies, policy makers and multiple stakeholders interested in agroforestry issues, especially in the field of grazed woodlands, will have the opportunity to participate, whether onsite or online, in a series of discussions, roundtables and one-on-one meetings highlighting the latest scientific research and implementing state-of-the-art innovations related to grazed woodlands that contributes to the development of the sector. A professional panel of acclaimed guest speakers, including representatives from LARI, LIVINGAGRO consortium and other research institutions, will be sharing insights on different topics and innovations related to agroforestry in order to help stakeholders to increase profitability, sustainability, and biodiversity in the face of limited resources and environmental constraints. These discussion sessions will tackle issues regarding adaptive grazing management, reconciling grazing with trees, mixtures for quality pasture, shade tolerant species, remote sensing techniques to monitor oak forests, thinning and pruning trees in silvopastoral systems, land imprinter for rangelands rehabilitation coupled with rangeland species seeder and, hydroponic fodder system.
Grazed woodlands are land use systems that integrate woody vegetation with livestock, playing an important socio-economic role, and providing rural employment and a range of ecosystem services. With its open innovation approach, LIVINGAGRO project will help different stakeholders during this one-day B2B event in identifying the types of problems facing this sector, as well as underlining and co-designing the most workable technological solutions that maximize the ecosystem functionality of the grazed forest and enhance the many aspects and resources that agroforestry in grazed woodland can provide.
The LIVINGAGRO project will also help to encourage stakeholders to collaborate with each other, which will lead to different innovations with high business potentials among research centers, agricultural policy makers and other interested stakeholders in grazed woodlands.
Know more about the brokerage event here
Tunisian ‘hanging garden’ farms cling on despite drought
In the press
By AFP – Sep 18,2022 – Last updated at Sep 18,2022
DJEBBA, Tunisia — High in the hills of north-western Tunisia, farmers are tending thousands of fig trees with a unique system of terracing they hope will protect them from ever-harsher droughts.
But the “hanging gardens” of Djebba El Olia have been put to the test this year as the North African country sweltered through its hottest July since the 1950s.
That has exacerbated a long drought that has left Tunisia’s reservoirs at just a third of their capacity.
The gardens are supplied with water from two springs high in the mountains.
The water is fed into the orchards by a network of canals that are opened and shut at set times, according to the size of the orchard.
Crucially, a wide variety of crops provides resilience and in-built pest control, unlike the monocultures that dominate modern agriculture and require huge inputs of pesticides to survive.
“We grow figs but also other trees like quinces, olives and pomegranates, and beneath them we plant a wide range of greens and legumes,” said activist Farida Djebbi as insects buzzed between thyme, mint and rosemary flowers.
Djebbi pointed out some of the channels, which irrigate the area’s 300 hectares of steeply sloping orchards.
In 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organisation recognised the system as an example of “innovative and resilient agroforestry”, adding it to an elite list of just 67 “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems”.
The system “has been able to adapt and take advantage of an inhospitable topography”, the UN agency said.
“Through the use of natural geological formations and the use of stones, local communities have been able to transform the landscape into fertile and productive lands.”
The FAO praised the diversity of local crop varieties grown by the area’s farmers, as well as their use of wild plants to repel potential pests and of livestock to “plough” and fertilise the soil.
Growing up with figs
While nobody knows exactly how old the system is, human habitation in the area predates the Carthaginian civilisation founded in the ninth century BC.
But while it may have endured for generations, the system is under threat as climate change kicks in.
Activist Tawfiq El Rajehi, 60, says the flow of water from springs irrigating the area has dropped off noticeably, particularly in the past two years.
Unlike in previous years, the surrounding peaks no longer get covered in snow each winter, and the leaves of many of the trees in the lower part of Djebba are yellowing and sick.
Rajehi, a teacher at the local school, said climate change and low rainfall were compounded by another factor: farmers favouring cash crops.
“Some farmers have moved to growing more figs instead of less water-intensive crops because figs have become more profitable in recent years,” he said.
“We need to keep a good balance and variety of plants.”
Nevertheless, residents say they are proud of their heritage.
Farmer Lotfi El Zarmani, 52, said there was also growing demand for Djebba figs, which were given a protected designation of origin by the agriculture ministry in 2012 — still the only Tunisian fruit to enjoy the certification.
“They’re getting a reputation, plus exporting them has become easier, plus they bring higher prices,” Zarmani said, adding that most exports go to the Gulf or neighbouring Libya.
Rajehi’s daughter, university student Chaima, put on protective gloves as she set out to harvest the fruit from her family’s small lot.
“Figs are more than a fruit for us. We’re born here among the fig trees and we grow up with them, we learn from a young age how to look after them,” the 20-year-old said.
Djebbi is working to persuade farmers to preserve traditional ways of processing the products harvested in the area.
She is working with 10 other women on a cooperative that distils essence from wildflowers, dries figs, and produces fig and mulberry jam.
“Products we learnt how to make from our mothers and grandmothers are becoming popular because they’re of such high quality,” she said.
Source: Jordan Times
Photo caption: The son of a farm owner sorts figs for export in the Tunisian town of Djebba, southwest of the capital Tunis, on August 19, 2022 (AFP photo)
First Brokerage event on Multifunctional Olive Systems in Lebanon
The first B2B event related to Multifunctional Olive Systems (LL1) was organized by the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) with the support of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) at the SmallVille Hotel in Beirut, Lebanon on 21th July, 2022.
The objectives of the B2B event included:
– Connecting innovators with stakeholders in the olive sector to work on solutions for their problems;
– Matching demands/requests for innovations;
– Releasing and disseminating of a catalogue of available innovations;
– Introducing innovations in the olive, olive oil and agroforestry sectors to producers, cooperatives, agricultural enterprises, company representatives, millers, and other interested stakeholders;
– Laying the foundations for future innovation projects by providing an opportunity to meet for businesses, associations, research institutions, policy makers and other professionals in agriculture and food production;
Allowing the establishment of new contacts and the sharing of information on innovative ideas, machinery, techniques and services.
During this event, on-site presentations, round tables and one-on-one meetings took place. A list of eight innovations was selected from a master catalogue of innovations prepared by the LIVINGAGRO consortium. These innovations were presented by the corresponding researchers/innovators from Greece, Italy and Lebanon. They focused on intercropping of olive with other crops such as grasses and legumes and its impact on soil characteristics, olive fruit production and olive oil quality; the Zen Irriware precision technique for irrigation management; the technique of digital analysis of the size, shape and structure of the fruit to determine the identity of olive cultivars; the method of a DNA-based diagnostic test to document the origin of the cultivar for olive oil; the use of the FT-NIR technique to assess the quality of olive oil; and, the use of Syrian sumac in the preparation of table olives.
In the afternoon, one-on-one meetings were organized and round tables’ sessions took place to discuss the challenges of the sector and search for appropriate solutions. These discussions were very interactive and included the following main topics: reducing production cost, soil management practices, harvesting time and methods, olive pests and diseases control, and improving olive oil quality. Moreover, some of the participants were interested in getting more knowledge about the innovations discussed during the morning session and others wanted to discern the possibility of future collaboration with some experts.
The total number of participants attending the event on-site was 71; and, 20 other participants followed the event through the Live Stream over YouTube. The participants included farmers, mill owners, members of cooperatives; research stakeholders working on olive and olive oil such as employees in agricultural universities, employees in NGOs; and policy makers such as employees in the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Economy, employees in municipalities, etc.
The participants appreciated the value of exchanging experiences among the countries participating in the project and stressed on the importance of becoming familiar with new and advanced technologies to improve their production and the quality of the final products.
Find out more about Multifunctional Olive Systems here
Innovations for Mediterranean agroforestry systems in Lebanon
Business Environment Events Innovation News Projects
Stakeholders in the Lebanese olive and livestock sectors who are facing challenges are invited to a free B2B event where they can connect with innovators who offer solutions to common problems. Hybrid online and face-to-face presentations and one-on-one meetings will take place in Beirut on July 21st 2022 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as part of the LIVINGAGRO project funded under the ENI CBC Med Programme 2014-2020.
This hybrid conference will take place at the Smallville Hotel Badaro in Beirut, Lebanon. There, eight 15-minute presentations will introduce innovations in the olive, olive oil, and livestock sectors to producers, cooperatives, agricultural enterprises, company representatives, millers, and other interested stakeholders.
Innovators, researchers, and representatives of organizations will give presentations on a wide range of innovations related to the following topics:
• Chickpea intercropping in olive groves
• Effect of soil management and different cover crops on soil characteristics, olive production and olive oil quality
• DNA-based diagnostic test to authenticate the varietal origin of olive oil
• OliveID, an image-based tool to identify olive cultivars based on a numeric analysis of size, shape, and structure
• FT-NIR Analyzer, using Fourier transform (FT) near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) to determine olive oil quality
• Zen Irriware precision irrigation system
• Clearing shrubs and sowing a mixture of grass and legumes in agrosilvopastoral systems
• Using Sumac for Olive Curing
On the event day, audience members will be invited to schedule one-on-one meetings to learn more from innovators during the afternoon session. This will allow participants to ask specific questions relevant to their own situations, and to learn more about the innovations of greatest interest to them.
Part of LIVINGAGRO’s Living Laboratories, such connections between audience members and presenters will enable the establishment of new contacts and the sharing of information on innovative ideas, machinery, techniques, and services. The aim is to bring together innovators and those who may use their innovations, encouraging mutually beneficial discussions that could inspire collaborations. Two similar LIVINGAGRO B2B events that occurred online in July and December 2021 in Crete, Greece, did lead to new collaborations between presenters and audience members.
For more information about the event’s agenda please consult the event dedicated page at the following link on the project ICT platform.
For attending the event online use the following link.
An overview of each innovation will be available in English and Arabic Catalogues during the event. The Catalogues can be viewed here (in Arabic and English).
This event is being organized in the framework of the “LIVINGAGRO – Cross Border Living laboratories for Agroforestry” project which is co-financed by the European Union (90%) through the ENI CBC Med Programme 2014 – 2020 and National Resources (10%). Rather than simply doing research in isolated labs, LIVINGAGRO partners in Italy, Lebanon, Jordan, and Greece have asked farmers, company representatives, policy makers and other stakeholders who work with olive oil and grazed woodlands for input about the types of problems they need to solve, as well as the most workable solutions.
Many survey respondents indicated a desire to increase their product’s quality, improve plant health and/or soil fertility, reduce their production costs, increase the quantity produced, and reduce their use of chemical products. Innovations have been identified that can meet those needs as well as others.
The LIVINGAGRO team invites all who are interested to learn more, whether online or in person, at the B2B event in Beirut.
For more information concerning the event please contact Dr. Milad El Raichy at phone nr. +961 70 218 438 or email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cooperation agreement between LARI & ESIAM
On Thursday July 7, 2022, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI), represented by Dr. Michel Afram (PDG of LARI) and Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth – Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieurs d’Agronomie Méditerranéenne (ESIAM-USJ), represented by Pr. Salim Daccache (Rector of Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth), implicating ESIAM-USJ in the LIVINGAGRO project in the activities related to the realization, management and conduction of the experimental field trials, as well as the data collection, analysis and interpretation.
The LIVINGAGRO project, financed under the “Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme”, is the largest Cross-Border Cooperation initiative implemented by the EU under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI CBC MED Program).
It aims technology transfer and commercialization of research results in the Mediterranean agroforestry sector, through the creation of two Living Labs (olive and silvopastoral systems) based on Open Innovation approaches, and creation of new opportunities for local communities in terms of sustainable farming practices and product diversification, through the identification and implementation of innovative techniques in the agroforestry sector; improvement of the stability of food production of agroforestry sector by promoting the production of quality products that support the income growth of farmers in marginal area with limited resources and environmental constraints; as well as innovation suppotr with high commercial potential in various contexts.
Greek field trial works on enhancing natural regeneration and establishment of valonia oak using soil covers
Environment Innovation News Projects
In the framework of the field trials that are being implemented in the LIVINGAGRO project in order to test innovations for the Mediterranean agroforestry sector, an experiment was performed in Greece concerning natural regeneration of valonia oak forests.
The valonia oak forests in Greece are traditional silvopastoral systems used for livestock grazing and acorn collection (for feed and tanneries). During the past decades, these systems have faced some challenges from human and natural factors that result, among other things, in low natural regeneration (Figure 1 included in the news image). Grazing has been pin-pointed as the primary cause for this. To test this hypothesis, we established permanent experimental plots in 2014 which enabled us to test a number of possible factors.
After almost 8 years of grazing exclosure, the natural regeneration is still low. So, motivated by the LIVINGAGRO project, we looked at other possible causes of this poor natural vegetation, with drought being one of them. For this, we established a field trial in May 2021 to test the effect of soil covers on soil moisture and properties, and the valonia oak’s natural vegetation. We evaluated seedlings’ survival and growth in July 2021, October 2021 and April 2022 (Figure 3 included in the news image).
After almost a year, the results are promising, but long-term monitoring is needed to evaluate the regeneration and to draw environmentally sound conclusions. The trial will continue this year with more focused and confined protection on already established seedlings.
Texts provided by:
Anastasia Pantera1, Andreas Papadopoulos1, Panagiotis Kalaitzis2, Lisa Radinovsky2
1: Agricultural University of Athens, School of Plant Science, Department of Forestry and Natural Environment Management, Greece
2: Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICH), Department of Horticultural Genetics and Biotechnology, Chania, Greece
LIVINGAGRO capitalization webinar
Environment Events Innovation News Projects
On June 28, 2022 the Italian National Research Council (CNR) organized a project capitalization webinar that concentrated on innovation and transfer of knowledge regarding Mediterranean multifunctional olive systems (the focus of LIVINGAGRO’s Living Lab 1). Stakeholders of the involved project countries (Greece, Italy, Jordan and Lebanon) participated in the webinar. This event followed a first capitalization webinar focused on grazed woodlands (the project’s second Living Lab), which was organized by CNR on January 28, 2021 to investigate innovations and best practices for this agroforestry sector.
Multifunctional olive systems in the Mediterranean Basin include agroforestry systems that highly contribute to sustaining local economies, providing both plant and animal products. Today, there is a strong demand from farmers for an integrated system of good practices that guarantee the sustainability of production, the transfer of innovation and the increase in profitability for the territories and individuals involved. The LIVINGAGRO project addresses these issues using an Open Innovation approach, based on the establishment of a Living Laboratory on multi-functional olive systems that will allow the co-creation of useful innovations based on interactions between suppliers of innovations and those who will use them, eliminating geographical and cultural barriers.
The capitalization event started with a welcome and brief introduction to the topic by the event moderator, Federica ROMANO, LIVINGAGRO Communication Manager, which was followed by an intervention by Sara MALTONI of the Regional Forest Agency for Land and Environment of Sardinia (Fo.Re.S.T.A.S. – LIVINGAGRO Leading Partner), who presented the LIVINGAGRO project to participants, focusing on the main activities implemented, results achieved to date, and upcoming initiatives. The floor went then to Claudio PORQUEDDU from the Italian National Research Council, Institute for the Animal Production System in the Mediterranean Environment (CNR ISPAAM) of Sassari, who introduced the topic of multifunctional olive systems in the Mediterranean area, reporting on the general situation and the main threats and challenges the sector is facing.
In the second session of the event, four panelists representing LIVINGAGRO partners introduced the context of olive tree growing in the project countries. The session started with Luciana BALDONI of the Italian National Research Council, Institute of Biosciences and BioResources (CNR IBBR) of Perugia, continuing with Panagiotis KALAITZIS of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) in Greece, Milad EL RIACHI from the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) and Salam AYOUB of the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) in Jordan. Each presentation highlighted the role and current trend of multi-functional olive systems in Italy, Greece, Lebanon and Jordan, focusing on the relevant innovations for the sector identified within the LIVINGAGRO project. The main innovations presented included solutions related to
- Agronomic practices for agroforestry systems’ sustainability (nature-based solutions)
- Precision irrigation and resistant olive tree species for adaptation to climate change
- Enhancement of cultural traditions and plant genetic heritage
- DNA-based authentication of olive trees and olive oil
- Innovative disease and pest management in agroforestry systems (e.g. re the olive fly)
- Self-reseeding species to be used as fodder and forage
- Practices for increasing yield while protecting biodiversity and avoiding land abandonment
The final session was dedicated to the capitalization of findings and results of two projects which dealt with topics related to multifunctional olive systems. These were the “Arimnet REFORMA” project, presented by Luciano PECETTI from the Italian Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA) and the “MOLTI” project by Enrico LODOLINI from the same institution (CREA), which focus on the improvement of production in traditional, dense and high-density olive orchards. An open discussion with webinar participants followed, allowing the public to submit contributions and questions for the panelists.
Closing remarks were made by Adolfo ROSATI from the Italian Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA). He focused on integrated agricultural systems, offering the example of an olive orchard where wild asparagus and poultry are grown together, establishing an integrated farming system. Dr. Rosati highlighted the benefits of this practice in terms of soil consumption, energy use, farmers’ income, and circular economy good practices.
Highlights of a field visit in Jordan
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In the framework of LIVINGAGRO, twenty field visits are being carried out in the four project countries (Greece, Italy, Jordan and Lebanon) by April 2023. The goal is to assess the needs of agroforestry farmers and economic operators, transfer knowledge and exchange information concerning their innovation needs. On June 29, for example, a field visit was organized in Jordan by the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC). The 15 participants included researchers, agriculture extension agents, farmers and forest association representatives.
The participants first visited the Taybeh organic farm in Wadi Rajeb/Ajloun, where they learned about the use of permaculture principles and the organic farming system for growing fruit trees (olive, citrus, date palm and avocado) and vegetable crops. On the farm, the agricultural production has been diversified with the introduction of native and non-native productive and non-productive trees and shrubs, as well as by introducing swales and ponds, fire breaks and wind breaks.
On the same day, there was also a visit to an olive farm in Sakhra/Ajloun to learn more about the use of an innovative technique for supplemental irrigation of olive trees during the summer months using rainwater harvested during winter and kept in plastic barrels (sub-soil irrigation). In addition, visitors were able to find out about a mobile phone application that supports farmers by helping them determine and control the time and quantity of irrigation water as well as integrating pest management to control the spread of the olive fruit fly on the farm.
Discovering Greek innovations in the Catalogue of Innovations, Episode 4
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Having identified potentially useful innovations, the partners of the LIVINGAGRO project developed a Catalogue intended to provide an overview of some of the innovations that may be useful to stakeholders involved with multifunctional olive systems and grazed woodlands. This can help bring together economic stakeholders and innovators who may be able to collaborate to solve common problems. This activity included assessing the stage of readiness of a potential innovation, as well as which type of challenges it addresses. Taking into consideration the needs expressed by stakeholders, the research team of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) and the technical team reviewed the information provided. Following this review, the working group went back to the innovators to address questions and fill in gaps, then incorporated the responses into the innovation descriptions.
Introduction to section 1 of the Catalogue concerning the re-use of traditional practices in agroforestry
In agroforestry, trees or shrubs are grown in or around pastureland and/or agricultural crops. Silvopastoralism, a type of agroforestry that combines livestock grazing and trees, was and still is a traditional land use system in many areas. For example, in Xeromero, Aetoloakarnania in western Greece, livestock breeders have used the valonia oak forest for grazing as well as collecting acorn cups from the oaks for use in the tanning industry. Agrosilvopastoralism is another kind of agroforestry where livestock is introduced in the field after the completion of the annual crop. On the island of Kea in the Aegean Sea, farmers used to grow cereals and legumes between trees for both human consumption and as feed for the animals. Greek olive farmers have also traditionally grown annual crops for the market or for grazing animals among their trees – or simply allowed livestock to graze on wild plants in the groves. Lately, there has been a gradual abandonment of this kind of combined land use, with a preference for monoculture, such as olive trees grown alone.
However, using forests and olive groves for multiple purposes has many benefits. For example, it ensures a steady and enhanced economic return every year, with a reduced risk of losses due to weather conditions or other types of hazards. Agroforestry can also increase biodiversity, reduce the impact of pests, enrich soil nutrient content, reduce erosion, improve carbon sequestration, and help reduce the risk and severity of forest fires. For these reasons, a return to productive old ways can become a useful innovation that allows farmers and livestock breeders to both increase their incomes from the production of high quality products, and help preserve valuable forest lands and olive groves using sustainable practices.
Presentation of Innovation 4: Livestock grazing in olive agroforestry systems
It has been estimated that olive groves cover an area of 700,000 hectares (ha) in Greece, with 124,311 of those hectares forming agroforestry systems in which crops or pasture is established in the lush understory of the olive trees. In these agroforestry systems, the understory usually consists of herbaceous vegetation for animal grazing, vegetables, or crops such as cereals and legumes. With a density of 50-100 mature trees per hectare, olive agroforestry constitutes a traditional land use practice in all the parts of the country that have a mild Mediterranean climate. Almost all the olive trees in the traditional systems were derived from wild plants that were grafted onto the tree trunk at a height of 2 meters in order to avoid animal browsing. These olive trees can be combined with grazing animals (sheep, cattle, goats, even honey bees, pigs or chickens) that may graze on the spontaneous vegetation (wild plants) or on planted crops (such as wheat or barley) in the grove.
olive agroforestry, grazing animals, grazing, livestock, traditional practice, herbaceous vegetation, low tree density, high tree age, understory productivity, animal feeding, grain production, hay, profit for farmers, agroforestry, olive growing, olive groves
Traditional olive agroforestry systems are found at lower elevations, with trees scattered in the plot or planted in rows. In the first case (trees scattered in the plot), herbaceous vegetation grows, producing animal feed from early fall to late spring. In addition, when shrubs exist in the understory, animals (especially goats) may graze during the summer. The only time grazing is interrupted is during the olive harvest, usually from mid-October to the end of November. Regarding the second case (trees planted in rows), the tree spacing is usually 10X10m. Between the tree rows, farmers can cultivate cereals (oats, barley, wheat, etc.) for grain production and/or legumes (common vetch, chickpeas, etc.) for hay and soil amelioration. Sowing time is usually between mid-October and mid-November, after the first autumn rains and the olive harvest. Sometimes farmers cultivate mixtures of cereals and legumes for hay production. Animals may graze on the stubble after the cereals or mixtures are harvested.
In the case of spontaneous vegetation in the understory of olive trees, the key factor is grazing management, including the grazing capacity, stocking rate, time of grazing, and grazing system. In the second case, the key factor is tree management (pruning, management of cut branches, harvest time). All of this will be discussed in more detail in the LIVINGAGRO B2B presentation, and a local agronomist can provide additional advice related to each specific case.
1. Improves the olive agroforestry system’s microclimate
2. Enables low-input cultivation
3. Lowers fertilizer expenses due to “green” manure from grazing animals
4. Provides effective use of understory vegetation
5. Increases the farmer’s income with livestock husbandry products
6. Increases plant and animal diversity, which reduces problems with pests
7. Intercropping with cereals and legumes improves tree productivity
8. The olive tree root system helps filter deeper soil layers and avoid groundwater pollution from fertilizers
Olive agroforestry systems are more economically sustainable than monocultures since they can reduce farmers’ expenses, improve orchard health, and increase farmers’ income. They can provide income from more than one source: olive products (olive oil and edible olives), animal husbandry products (dairy and meat), grain from cereals, and hay from legumes for feeding livestock.
Traditional and modern olive agroforestry systems are usually not irrigated, so their productivity depends mainly on annual precipitation. Dry years may reduce the total productivity.
Next steps/potential extension
Olive agroforestry products could increase farmers’ income and help the local economy even more if they were labelled and promoted as local specialty products and/or environmentally friendly products.
Find out more
Konstantinos Mantzanas, PhD
Research and Teaching Staff
Laboratory of Rangeland Ecology
Faculty of Forestry and Natural Environment
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
LINK TO THE COMPLETE GREEK INNOVATIONS CATALOGUE (EN)
In the next Episode: Innovation 5, Olive tree, wild asparagus and free-range chicken polyculture!
Field visit 3 to South Lebanon
Twenty researchers and agricultural engineers’ students from Saint Joseph University-Higher school of Mediterranean Agricultural Engineers (USJ-ESIA-M), in addition to some potential farmers participated in this visit. The team introduced to the participants the LIVINGAGRO project, discussed the problems that the participants are facing in their orchards such as soil erosion, poor soil fertility, high chemical costs, high production cost mainly due to the high use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, manual harvesting, etc., and their needs for innovations for improving soil fertility, reducing soil erosion, obtaining good quality of olive and olive oil, and marketing of the final products. The LIVINGAGRO team satisfied their needs for innovation through visiting at first a field trial planted with innovative legume-based seed mixtures in an olive orchard in collaboration with CNR-Italy within the LIVINGAGRO project activities; then, another field trial of the LIVINGAGRO project aiming for assessing the effects of green manure and cover crop on soil characteristics and olive orchard productivity;
Finally, a modern olive mill owned by Engineer Elias Fares who explained for the participants the steps to obtain the best quality of olive oil and the ways to market this luxury product. The day ended by gathering on an amazing lunch to strengthen the connection between the researchers and the stakeholders and discuss possibilities for future collaboration. All the participants expressed their interest and happiness in this event as it helped them to establish connections with new researchers and engineers in the olive and olive oil sector, develop their knowledge regarding the agroforestry and the living labs concepts, find solutions for some of their problems and satisfy their needs for innovations.
Field visit N.2 to Darbechtar Cooperative
Researchers and engineers from LARI in addition to eight farmers from the region, participated in the visit.
The day began at the cooperative, where the participants were introduced to the LIVINGAGRO project: its background, objectives, activities, and expected results. Then, LIVINGAGRO team assessed the specific needs of innovations for developing the cooperative by improving soil fertility and working conditions for obtaining good quality olive and olive oil.
Moreover, the team intended to help the farmers in solving some specific problems such as the high production cost due to traditional practices such as high use of chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides), manual harvesting, soil erosion and poor soil fertility.
Afterwards, all the participants visited one of the Darbechtar cooperative fields owned by Charbel Bou Ghosn. This orchard was used as a demonstrative field for planting innovative legumes-based mixtures within the framework of the LIVINGAGRO project.
Finally, participants shared interesting opinions about the olive and olive oil sector in Lebanon, developed their knowledge regarding the agroforestry and the living labs concept, satisfied their needs for innovations and were encouraged to participate in future events of the project where innovators will transfer ready to use innovations for the interested stakeholders.
The first field visit in Lebanon within the LIVINGAGRO project was organized in the south of Lebanon on 27th of July 2021
The first field visit was conducted by the LIVINGAGRO team at the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) on July 27, 2021.
Researchers and engineers from LARI, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the Lebanese University (LU), in addition to ten farmers from the Chouf, Iklim and Saida districts, participated in the visit. The day began at LARI’s Tyr station, where the participants were introduced to LIVINGAGRO.
LARI project members explained the project’s background, activities, objectives and expected results. The day continued with
visits to the national collection of local olive varieties and the olive nursery at the station.
After that, the participants went to Lebaa to visit one of best olive groves in the region, the socalled “Bustan El Zeitoun”, which is owned by Engineer Walid Mshantaf and planted with different local and Italian varieties. In this orchard, the LIVINGAGRO team established a field trial to study the effect of green cover and green manure on soil characteristics and olive yield within the framework of the LIVINGAGRO project.
The technical part of the day ended with a visit to a typical modern olive mill at Abraa, which is owned by Engineer Elias Fares. Mr. Fares explained all the steps taken to obtain the best quality olive oil and how to take advantage of olive mill by-products in a sustainable way. Finally, the long day concluded with lunch.
Participants enjoyed Lebanese food while discussing several possibilities for collaboration between research and economic
stakeholders, in addition to interesting opinions about the
olive and olive oil sector in Lebanon.