The Olive Tree and India

The olive tree has been a symbol of the nation of Israel since ancient times, and therefore bares physical and spiritual importance to the Jewish people. Since being re-established in 1948, the State of Israel authorities have encouraged the research and development of the olive industry. The God of Israel has blessed His people, and in particular, Israel's "greening" of the Negev desert has become known worldwide as an agricultural miracle. Many nations have benefited from Israel's research and development. India has become a more recent recipient.

Over the next three years, the State of Rajasthan, located in the north of India, is to be planted with one million olive trees grown in Israel, in an effort to transform the landscape and the fortunes of its struggling farmers.

The plan is to introduce batches of olive seedlings, grown in Israel, to selected dry regions of Rajasthan, which consists of thirty-three districts. A government-run nursery in Jaipur, the state's capital, was the first to receive 50,000 olive saplings, where they were placed in greenhouses, and then in the open field. Drip systems had to be installed in the nurseries, while water management systems and drip-irrigation equipment were needed in the field.

The pilot venture which is being closely monitored in a joint cooperation between the Rajasthan Agricultural board and Israeli experts has already caught the interest of local farmers. One farmer in the Pali district has planted olive saplings on 100 acres and is readily supplying others in the region keen to try the experimental-crop. As part of the venture, a batch of 60,000 saplings is also scheduled to be planted on 210 hectares across 10 nurseries in Rajasthan.

India will rely heavily on Israeli experience and technology with hands-on assistance from experts in the field of water recycling and irrigation. The joint project hopes to make India an exporter of olive oil by the year 2011.

The following is a list of benefits of olive oil consumption published by The Peres Center for Peace, based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Olive oil heads the list of vegetable oils most consumed, specifically because it is not chemically processed prior to consumption. Other vegetable oils which are chemically processed lose vital components including vitamin E, which has been shown to play a major role in raising the level of “good cholesterol” and controlling the level of “bad cholesterol”, and inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells due to its antioxidant properties.

In contrast to other types of vegetable oils, olive oil:

  • Has a high content of unsaturated fatty acids, in particular oleic acid.
  • Has a high content of antioxidant substances that have been shown to lower "bad" cholesterol levels and inhibit the development of cancerous cells, ensuring lower susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
  • Contains Vitamins A, K and D, contributing to the body's nutritional sources.
  • Has the right balance between linoleic acid and vitamin E, which inhibits the negative effects of fatty substances.
  • Is extracted from a fruit that has been exposed to long periods of direct sunlight - a vital component in the development of the oil's constituents.
  • May be consumed directly after the oil is extracted from the fruit, without undergoing any additional chemical processing.
  • Is resistant to high temperatures as a result of its chemical constituents, and is therefore more stable when used for frying.

Mark Warren

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