Israel: ARTOLIO first meeting highlights technical and business challenges for olive oil producers
In the last two weeks we have found ourselves in a difficult situation. After we were already sure the Covid was behind us, at least in part, suddenly another crisis arose here, which all the members of the ARTOLIO project in Israel and Palestine had to struggle with.
The complex events that took place this time, not only in air combat but also in the streets between the people, caused hard feelings on both sides and a feeling that this time there is something different, deeper, scarier and more threatening than the previous times.
These events and feelings make us declare even more strongly that this is not our way.
Indeed, we did not remain silent and did not stop operating. Just as many people and organizations felt the need to share in the coexistence, solidarity and brotherhood that exist in their normal routine, and to make it clear that this is the right path in their opinion, we too have continued - and met.
On Tuesday, May 25, the first official meeting of ARTOLIO Israel participants took place. ARTOLIO Palestine participants were also invited to the meeting. However, although they could not attend this time, they partially participated through ZOOM and several joint meetings were scheduled in the coming weeks.
In the meeting we strengthened the acquaintance between the growers and between them and the project management, we explained again the processes and goals of the project, and asked all participants to present to us the main challenges they see in their work as olive growers and olive press mills owners.
Many things have come up - from technical challenges such as water price subsidies, lack of manpower at harvest time, lack of proper equipment, division into small areas, oil filtration, lack of time to care for olives due to additional work, incorrect storage of oil and transport in unsuitable conditions, to professional and social challenges such as lack of knowledge and savviness in marketing and sales, and lack of platform to consult, share and learn from each other.
This last interesting revelation was common to all: the power of collaboration. The advantage of size, the importance of knowledge sharing, the common local pride, and the necessity in sharing in things like manufacturing, supply and export.
In the next part of the meeting we clarified the goals of the agricultural and business accompaniment. Unlike the agricultural training (e.g.: irrigation, fertilization, production waste, mills management) which is more natural for growers, the business-marketing training dealing with pricing, social networks, online sales, regional marking and more is less natural to smallholders in the industry... And indeed, the discussion dealt with the need to make the business training organic to them, as natural and essential part of improving quality.
One of the ways to generate innovation and growth in the project is to assimilate technologies in the traditional production and supply processes in this traditional industry. To this end, the last part of the theoretical session was devoted to initial instruction in the use of ARTOLIO management software that will accompany the growers in the project and will enable them to become efficient, share knowledge, receive consultation and grow their value.
Businesses sometimes find it hard to produce a "marketing story" that will help them sell. Producers in the olive oil industry have one of the best marketing stories in the world: tradition and progress, nature and humans, health and cuisine, Arabs and Jews, coexistence, and joy. Everything is in the story of the olive.
In the project we will also learn to use this fascinating story.
Perfect vs. Progress: Jon Maynard Keyns, one of the most important economists in the world once said, "It is better to be roughly right, than precisely wrong". We believe this can help us keep going and reaching progress, and eventually achieve some perfection…
After the meeting we went on a tour of the beautiful plots of the oldest olive trees in Israel, when one of the olive trees was valued by its owner as over 3000 years old ...
We will continue to share with you things from the field, learn new things to improve the quality of olive oil and strengthen the existing and beautiful in the sector.
It is believed that sitting under olive trees will ever encourage mutual listening, coexistence and a peace of mind and soul.
In our places this is perhaps the only possible way.
We will meet with our Palestinian partners who share similarities in climate, variety and mode of cultivation as well as in love for the olive trees and the belief in their power to support and unite.
Wishing us all a lot of health, cooperation, and success!