The Technology Unit is in charge of ensuring the most modern, efficient techniques are used all along the olive oil production line. This means promoting technical cooperation and research and development in olive growing by encouraging public and private, national and international organisations and/or bodies to work together.
The Unit leads projects aimed at identifying, preserving and making the best use of genetic olive resources. It also supports research into the interaction between olive growing and the environment, in particular in terms of protecting the environment and promoting sustainable production, while ensuring the sector develops in an integrated and sustainable way. By encouraging the transfer of technology through sector-specific training and organising international, national and regional activities, the Unit helps protect the geographic indication of olive products and encourages the exchange of information and know-how in olive plant health.
In order to achieve all of this, the Technology Unit leads research and development projects in the field of olive growing, olive oil technology and the environment; holds a wide range of meetings and seminars all over the world; publishes useful guides and manuals; organises a variety of training courses at different levels; and provides technical assistance to all member countries.
The Unit organises and oversees on all of its activities, with the help of its Olive Oil Technology and the Environment & Technical Cooperation and Training departments.
The olive growing, olive oil technology and environment unit
As its name suggests, this Unit is dedicated to all olive growing, olive oil technology and the environment. This means adopting measures for the transfer of technology, which helps develop the olive sector, in particular when it comes to supporting good agricultural practices and the preservation of natural resources; protecting genetic heritage; and improving the quality of olive products and promoting their numerous by-products.
Technical cooperation and training department
The training department organises courses at various levels in order to keep everyone involved in olive oil production well informed about advances in the sector. A variety of courses are held, including: international university programmes, national seminars and workshops, courses on organoleptic assessment, field trips and in-house training opportunities. The department is also in charge of sending experts to member countries to provide additional technical assistance when needed. The department is also in charge of expanding the network of universities and training centres, managing agreements with research departments and following up on grants provided by the IOC.
Olive Growing and environment department
This department works hard to promote the use of modern techniques in everything from the orchard to the mill, so that yields are higher, costs are lower and the environment is protected, leaving us with only the best quality olive oil. The department is involved at all stages of olive growing: identification, improvement, expansion, preservation and utilisation of olive genetic materials, plant certification protocols, pest and disease control, irrigation, major operations, harvests, field handling, production, repurposing of by-products, carbon footprint, etc. The department has several approaches, such as running projects in member countries, publishing technical documents and holding international seminars.
Unit lines of activity
Technical cooperation and research & development
- The IOC carries out key technical activities, from orchard production to processing, and even consumption and marketing, to help olive growing to advance. In the production area, the focus is on improving crop productivity and reducing environmental impact. Varietal improvements, pest control, mechanisation and training are just some of the objectives pursued.
In the sphere of processing, traditional methods need to be replaced by more modern techniques ensuring better production, cheaper end products, improved quality, and environmental protection.
Lastly, in the marketing area, IOC technical action is tied up with economic action and is aimed at ensuring regular international trading in olive oil and olives and preventing and controlling fraud and adulterations.
The IOC tackles these challenges by implementing a global technical cooperation scheme hinged on a range of activities.
Identification, conservation and utilisation of genetic olive resources
- PROJECT TRUE HEALTH OLIVE CULTIVAR
Today, Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) represents a major threat to the development of the olive sector. This bacterium is disrupting the olive sector around the world: its impact on agriculture and the economic losses it has already caused, namely in the international trade of olive trees and in nurseries, are significant; creating the need to guarantee varietal authenticity and the absence of the organisms and pests responsible for such diseases in olive plants. This issue has become a priority for the international olive trade.
The IOC and the University of Córdoba signed an agreement to work together on the True Health Olive Cultivar project (THOC), with the objective of providing the IOC network of olive germplasm banks with initial stock plant material that is free of the pathogens responsible for olive knot (Pseudomonas savastanoi), verticillium wilt (Verticillium dahliae), sudden death syndrome (Xylella fastidiosa), viral diseases ArMV, CMV, CLRV and SLRV and nematodes Meloidogyne Spp. and Xiphinema, and will be obtained from the world olive germplasm bank of Cordoba (BGMO CAP-UCO-IFAPA).
The project will take place over four stages:
- Creation of a list of autochthonous varieties that are representative of trade in each of the participating countries;
- Authentication of varieties using microsatellite markers and morphological descriptors (UPOV-IOC);
- Diagnosis and, where applicable, eradication of the organisms listed in the corresponding international standard;
- Distribution to the network of banks of authentic and healthy material for its propagation and the establishment of mother plants as foundation stock for a certification protocol.
The first two stages are underway. The IOC has contacted the national germplasm banks for their main commercial varieties. A second correspondence, from the IOC and the UCO, will be sent to inform the relevant officials from the IOC network of the next steps.
Objective: characterisation/description of the cultivars making up the genetic olive resources of the participant member countries and inclusion of the different genotypes in the national and international (Córdoba and Tassaout-Marrakech) olive germplasm banks.
The participant countries were grouped by three sources of funding:
Countries: France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain
Common Fund for Commodities
Countries: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria
Project executing agency (PEA): Istituto per la Valorizzazione del Legno e delle Specie Arboree – Sesto Fiorentino (Florence, Italy)
International Olive Council
Countries: Croatia, Cyprus, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Slovenia
One of the principal objectives of the RESGEN project was for all the cultivars characterised by the participant countries to be conserved in their respective national collections as well as in the two world collections at Córdoba (Spain) and Marrakech (Morocco).
The International Olive Council arranged for the autochthonous varieties held in the national collections of the project participant countries to be shipped for planting in the two world collections. All the varieties shipped have been certified from the phytosanitary and varietal points of view by the countries that performed the characterisation.
INTEGRATED, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INDUSTRY
- Integrated, sustainable development of the industry
The increased focus on environmental issues is having a profound impact on the policies implemented by organisations, including the IOC which has incorporated such issues into its action strategies in response to the concerns of society about the protection and conservation of the natural environment. Moving one step further, a new concept of sustainable development has emerged, defined as development which « meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs ».
The economic development of agriculture has to take into account every aspect of environmental compatibility by opting for an agricultural model which makes prudent use of natural resources, protects the global ecosystem and generates economic prosperity and balanced social development.
ECOSYSTEMS LIKE THE OLIVE GROVE ARE PART OF THE SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
A fundamental scientific basis
A sink for greenhouse gases is defined as any process, activity or mechanism that absorbs or eliminates one of these gases, or one of their precursors, from the atmosphere, and is able to store it. The idea that such a sink was related to climate change was introduced at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.
There is enough scientific evidence to support the claim that the olive grove offers a positive CO2 balance, meaning it absorbs more than it emits.
As experts and their research have proven, agriculture is the only sector capable of both producing these harmful emissions and extracting them from the atmosphere. Certain agricultural ecosystems, in particular woody crops, are able to extract CO2 and store it in permanent vegetal structures as well as eventually transferring it into the ground, increasing the content of organic material and permanently storing the CO2.
Many prestigious, international studies have demonstrated the potential agriculture has to create carbon sinks.
The studies conducted by Sofo, Mota, Villalobos, Rodríguez and Nleto highlight the important role that cultivating olive trees plays in CO2 sequestration. Selecting the right production system, density of the plantation and using sustainable agricultural practices can significantly improve carbon sequestration in biomass and soil.
THE OLIVE GROVE IS A SUSTAINABLE STRATEGY AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
Scientific and sectorial basis
Consumers today are more and more incentivized to buy products with the least environmental impact. Environmental impact is now the third most important criteria consumers look to, after quality and price. This is thanks to changing attitudes about climate change, the biggest threat to sustainable development.
The agricultural sector is responsible for almost 140f greenhouse gas emissions around the world (IPCC, 2014). However, this statistic does not take into account the important role that agriculture plays as an ecosystem capable of extracting carbon from the atmosphere and fixing it in the soil, in particular in the case of woody crops.
For the olive crop, there is enough scientific research (Sofo, A., et al. 2005; Mota et al., 2010 y Villalobos et al., 2013; Rodríguez, M., et al, 2011; Nieto, O.M., 2011) showing that the olive tree is capable of sustainably fixing CO2 from the atmosphere in the soil, proving that the olive tree offers a carbon positive way of fixing more CO2 than it emits, therefore acting as a carbon sink.
In 2012, motivated by the need to demonstrate and recognise the carbon sink potential of the olive tree and the important role it can play in the fight against climate change, the International Olive Council set up a group of experts to create a method for calculating the carbon balance of olive oil. The group works within the framework of the European Commission’s Simple Market for Green Products Initiative, within the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) for olive oil, working together to achieve this goal and move towards integrating carbon balance in the report on the carbon footprint of olive oil.
In 2015, a tool was created for calculating carbon balance based on international standards and scientific publications. The IOC also took part in COP22 in Marrakech in 2016 to show the world the positive impact of olive oil production.
Continuing this work, the study empirically shows the carbon balance of olive oil, evaluating the potential scenarios for the main producer countries that represent almost 950f production worldwide.
TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY
- The activities focused on the transfer of technology aim to transmit up-to-date information to the operators of the sector.
These activities entitle courses, seminars, internships, expert missions and others and organised in response to IOC members’ needs.
The goal is to increase the number of professionals whose profile meets the growing demand for technical specialists in olive growing and olive oil technology.
PROTECTION OF GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS OF OLIVE PRODUCTS
- The IOC aims to promote the protection of geographical indications of olive products in compliance with the corresponding international agreements to which a member may be a party.
Members shall ensure protection in their territory for geographical indications within the meaning of article 22, paragraph 1 of the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) relating to the olive products, in accordance with the applicable international rules, procedures and undertakings, in particular article 1 of the TRIPS Agreement.
Members shall, upon request, exchange information on the geographical indications that are afforded protection in their territory, with a view, in particular, to strengthening their legal protection from any practice likely to affect their authenticity or mar their reputation.
Members shall be empowered to adopt initiatives designed to inform consumers on the specific characteristics of the protected geographical indications in their territory and to add value to such indications, in accordance with the applicable legal provisions.
WORLD COLLECTIONS AND PLANT CERTIFICATION
– It is advisable to safeguard genetic resources in order to preserve the biological and genetic diversity of the world olive sector, which constitutes an irreplaceable heritage, and to take every measure necessary to conserve, characterise, collect and utilise such resources;
– Genetic olive resources are important to the sustainable development of world olive cultivation;
– Projects RESGEN-CT96/97, CFC/IOOC/03 and RESGEN IOC make provision for the conservation of all the cultivars of olive in national collections and international collections;
The IOC developed with its Members three World germplasm collections for the development, research, safeguarding and enhancement of genetic olive resources.
These collections objective is the establishment, conservation and management of the olive varieties with a view to the rational, objective utilisation of the plant material held in the collection and the data generated by it for the benefit of the scientific community and development officers in the member countries of the International Olive Council.
Furthermore, the IOc has supported 22 countries in the establishment of their national collections in order to preserve the autochthonous resources.
These world collections and national germplasm banks will surely be a future source of material for the establishment of a certification system.
With this aim and in order to support the banks in the authentication and sanitisation of their plant material the IOC is developing the THOC (TRUE-TO-TYPE AND HEALTHY OLIVE CULTIVARS) project.
Experts groups, technical committee, administration of unit data and information for the olive observatory
- An expert group is a group of individuals generally designated by Members for a specific purpose, having regard to their specific skills and knowledge, and coordinated by a chair or a coordinator.
Expert groups can take the form of technical groups, working groups, technical boards, ad hoc groups, electronic working groups or pilot groups, according to factors such as the skills of the people concerned, the institutions they represent, geographical distribution, etc
The Meetings of such groups can also be open to observers from governmental and non-governmental organisations and institutions the Council has strong ties with or has established international collaborative relations.
Expert groups may be focused in different subject matters like gene sources of olive trees, environmental conservation and sustainable production, geographical indications, etc..
PROJECTS AND PROGRAMMES CARRIED OUT IN MEMBER COUNTRIES
- Project for the “Enhancement of genetic olive resources through the creation of pilot demonstration nurseries”
Project executing agency Institut de l’Olivier (IO), Tunisia Supervisory body International Olive Council Collaborating centres Technical Institute for Fruit Trees and Vineyards (ITAF) – Algiers, Algeria Regional Centre for Agricultural Research (INRA) – Marrakesh, Morocco National Olive Oil Board (ONH) – Tunis, Tunisia Horticulture Research Institute (HRI) – Giza, Egypt The ITAFV-Algeria, was able to establish its new operational greenhouse and lath house. The rehabilitation of the greenhouse located in Tessala el Merdja has been successfully achieved providing an area of 240m2 for olive plant production. Moreover, a new pilot lath house has been also installed with a total area of 240m2. Beside the ITAF new own mother collection, other cultivars’ collections were established in different locations across the country. The ITAFV was able to produce 38,776 sealable plants in its own greenhouse. Also, the 3 public and private partners were able to produce others 38,774 sealable plants. Thus, the total number of plant produced for the project until 31.03.2018 is 77,550 plants being the target 75,000 (25,000 per year starting from PY2 after achievement of the infrastructure). Moreover, there are 10,000 additional cuttings under preparation in the ITAF own greenhouse. As for the cultivar’s number, a total of 36 local cultivars have been propagated being 20 cultivars the requested target at the beginning of the project. The ITAFV has been distributing part of the olive plants to farmer free of charges. As for training and dissemination activities, they achieved 21 trainings to the own technicians and employees of the pilot nursery, and 204 dissemination activities including trainings, field demonstration days and other dissemination events. They were able to target a total number of 2364 technicians, farmers and other stakeholders across the country (the established project target is 500 beneficiaries). In the HRI-Egypt has successfully installed the project facilities in Giza (a new greenhouse of 480m2, a new lath house of 512m2 and a new operational mother collection). The HRI was able to produce 85,418 sealable olive plants being well on schedule against the annual objective of 25,000 plants per year starting from PY2 (total project target of 75,000 plants). The total number of cultivars produced since the project launching is 16. A total of 60,818 plants were already sold to farmer Nursery staff training benefits 64 persons among engineers, technicians and employees of the pilot nursery distributed on 3 training sessions. As for the dissemination activities, a total number of 22 activities were carried out including trainings sessions, field demonstrations and promotional activities. They reached 825 farmers, technicians, nursery men, students and other stakeholders. Dissemination activities were clearly improved in PY3 and PY4 according to the recommendation of the MTR meeting. The objective agreed for this project is 50 farmers and 75 technicians per year being 500 beneficiaries at the end of the project. The pilot nursery 180m2 structure of the INRA-Morocco has been set up to host up to 32,000 plants. The mother plant collection (counting 350 plants) and the lath house have been installed and are fully operational. These structures were installed at the national own contribution of the INRA. The INRA was able to produce 78,356 plants (17 cultivars) using the existing infrastructure and in collaboration with private nurseries. A total number of 76,200 plants have been already distributed to farmers and nurseries free of charges. Training activities of nursery staff benefits 3 persons from the staff. A total number of 3 field visits, 4 awareness campaigns and other dissemination activities reached a total of 1,367 beneficiaries between farmers, technicians and other relevant stakeholders. The INRA-Morocco also produced 8000 flyers to 4000 beneficiaries. The ONH-Tunisia was able to establish a fully operational greenhouse, lath house and a new mother collection located in Bejawa. The optimization of the project facilities and means of production started since PY1 and continued during PY4. A total number of 80,195 sealable plants were produced. The annual project target of 25,000 plants per year starting from PY2 was met (being 75,000 at the end of the project). 47,397 plants were already sold to farmers An additional batch of 36,440 cuttings are under preparation. A total of 17 local cultivars were propagated since the project launching being 20 the targeted number of cultivars at the beginning of the project. For the nursery staff, three internship programs were carried out and benefits two engineers and two nursery man. Since the project launching, 19 training sessions and technical visits were carried out by the ONH targeting a total number of 875 farmers, nursery man and technicians which is well on schedule in term of number (target: 500 beneficiaries). This project was also presented in several participations in national fairs and exhibitions.
- PROGRAMME FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND DISSEMINATION OF SUSTAINABLE IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT IN OLIVE GROWING – IRRIGAOLIVO CFC/IOOC/06VIDEO:
See more Duration: Four years Location: Morocco and Syria Description: Demonstration fields will be set up in two irrigated olive-growing areas typical of the Mediterranean region. The pilot plots will serve as an operational tool for local researchers and extension services to demonstrate the advantages of olive irrigation and new water distribution methods and irrigation strategies to farmers. The goal is to teach appropriate irrigation techniques in areas where olive oil production is essential for the livelihood of small farmers. The introduction of rational irrigation in such areas should mark a qualitative change by improving the productivity and sustainability of olive production. The dissemination of the results should impact positively on olive production throughout the entire Mediterranean region.
- PROJECT FOR THE CONSERVATION, CHARACTERISATION, COLLECTION AND UTILISATION OF GENETIC RESOURCES IN OLIVE (RESGEN)
Objective: Characterisation/description of the cultivars making up the genetic olive resources of the participant member countries and inclusion of the different genotypes in the national and international (Córdoba and Tassaout-Marrakech) olive germplasm banks. The participant countries were grouped by three sources of funding: European Commission Countries: France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain Common Fund for Commodities Countries: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria Project executing agency (PEA): Istituto per la Valorizzazione del Legno e delle Specie Arboree – Sesto Fiorentino (Florence, Italy) International Olive Council Countries: Croatia, Cyprus, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Slovenia Coordinator: IOC One of the principal objectives of the RESGEN project was for all the cultivars characterised by the participant countries to be conserved in their respective national collections as well as in the two world collections at Córdoba (Spain) and Marrakech (Morocco). The International Olive Council arranged for the autochthonous varieties held in the national collections of the project participant countries to be shipped for planting in the two world collections. All the varieties shipped have been certified from the phytosanitary and varietal points of view by the countries that performed the characterisation.
- PILOT PROJECT FOR THE COMPARISON OF OLIVE FLOWERING AND OLIVE YIELDS (CFC/IOOC/07FT)
This project aimed to devise a model for forecasting crop yields based on pollen monitoring in various areas in order to equip olive farmers with a planning tool. Objectives To obtain data on olive flowering in a major Mediterranean olive-growing country To interpret this phenomenon and study the relationships between flowering and weather conditions and their influence on the next crop harvests To compare flowering data, expressed as specific quantitative parameters (pollen indices), with yield data To ascertain the relationship between pollen emission and crop yields in the area under study Country: Tunisia Project executing agency (PEA): Institut de l’Olivier (IO), Sfax, (Tunisia) Supervisory body: International Olive Council
- PROJECT ON THE RECYCLING OF OLIVE WASTEWATER (CFC/IOOC/O4)Objectives: The prime objective of this project was to put forward a rational solution to the problem of disposing of the wastewater generated by olive oil production. Activities included running practical demonstrations to show the benefits of recycling vegetable water by using it as a fertiliser on agricultural land planted with herbaceous or tree crops. Other tandem objectives were: -To prevent wastewater from being discharged into urban sewage systems and watercourses and causing environmental pollution -To use wastewater and composted olive pomace as fertilisers on agricultural land in order to raise crop yields -To reduce the use of chemical fertilisers with the ensuing benefits for the agricultural economy and the environment Participant countries and collaborating centres: -Algeria: Institut Technique de l’Arboriculture Fruitière et de la Vigne – ITAF -Morocco: Directorate for Plant Production, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Water Resources and Forestry -Syria: Olive Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture, Idleb -Tunisia: Institut de l’Olivier, Sfax Project executing agency (PEA): École Nationale d’Agriculture (ENA), Meknès (Morocco) Supervisory body: International Olive Council (IOC) See: GOOD PRACTICES OF VEGETABLE WATER AND COMPOST SPREADING ON AGRICULTURAL LAND: THE OLIVE GROWING CASE
- PROJECT FOR PILOT DEMONSTRATION PLANTS AND TRAINING TO IMPROVE OLIVE OIL QUALITY
Objective: Installation of three pilot olive oil processing plants for demonstration and training purposes in southern and eastern Mediterranean countries with the aim of disseminating new olive oil production techniques, raising product quality and lowering production costs. Countries: Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia Project executing agency (PEA): Estación de Olivicultura y Elaiotecnia, Mengíbar, Jaén, (Spain) Sources of financing: CFC, IOC and participant countries Successful bidder for the supply and installation of the plants: COMAGRI-PIERALISI
- PROJECT FOR OLIVE HARVEST FORECASTING THROUGH POLLEN MONITORING The objective of this project was to design a statistical model for predicting harvests, based on the ratio between the quantity of pollen released by trees during flowering and the volume of fruit production. The main stages involved were: -Phenological study of the reproductive phases of the olive tree in two olive-growing areas -Comparison of phenological behaviour in two distinct climatic areas -Aerobiological study during flowering -Comparative study of the data collected at the pollen station in the two areas -Identification of the main meteorological, agronomic and phytopathological parameters and assessment of their influence on olive flowering and fruiting Comparison of the sampling results obtained in the pilot localities with the results taken from series of historical data Participants: University of Córdoba (Spain) and University of Perugia (Italy) Funding: International Olive Council (IOC) More [It]
- PROJECT FOR THE GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF THE OLIVE
Objective: To obtain new varieties of olive through crossbreeding of known, described autochthonous stock in order to improve certain traits, particularly productivity, regularity of bearing and adaptation to water and soil limitations. The project also aimed to improve oil composition and to heighten plant tolerance of constraints imposed by soil and climatic factors; European cultivars were also used for this purpose. Funding: Common Fund for Commodities (CFC)/International Olive Council (IOC) Project executing agency (PEA): Dipartimento di Ortoflorofrutticoltura, Università di Firenze, Florence (Italy) Countries and collaborating centres: Algeria (ITAF) Egypt (HRI) Morocco (INRA) Tunisia (IO) Turkey (ORI) (financed solely by the IOC from August 1995, when Turkey left the CFC, until December 1998, when it ceased to be a Member of the IOC) The project was enlarged to include Israel in 1996 (on IOC funding). THE CARBON BALANCE OF OLIVE CULTIVATION AROUND THE WORLD The International Olive Council began this project in order to acknowledge and demonstrate the carbon-storing potential of the olive tree, and the important role it can play in the fight against climate change. The olive grove as a carbon sink Climate change is a major threat to sustainable development and is a serious global challenge that is already having an impact on the economy, health, biodiversity, and well-being of people around the world. As stated in the 22 climate change summits that have been held around the world, and in particular the Paris Agreement, some 200 countries have ratified their pledge to take action against this global problem, one of the issues that most concerns society today. In 2012, the International Olive Council created a group of experts to propose a method for calculating the carbon balance of olive oil. The agricultural sector is thought to be responsible for almost 140f greenhouse gas emissions, according to the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2014). However, ecosystems like the olive grove are undeniably good for the environment, and should be considered a global strategy in the fight against climate change.
A BOOK OF THE IOC NETWORK OF GERMPLASM BANKS
- Dissemination of know-how: One of the ways in which the IOC disseminates technical know-how is to publish technical literature, including the World Catalogue of Olive Varieties and technical handbooks.
At present, the following technical handbooks are available:
– Olive pest and disease management;
– Mechanical harvesting of olives;
– Olive oil quality improvement;
– Table olive processing;
– Olive pruning;
– Olive and olive oil terminology.
INTERACTIVE TECHNICAL GUIDES
– World catalogue of olive varieties order
– Production techniques in olive growing download
– Olive nursery production and plant production techniques
– Code of good practice for the sustainable development of olive orchards in areas characterised by fragile ecosystems