In our recent post we discussed the history of agricultural and innovation in Israel, to explain why today Israel is one of the leading countries in food tech development and growth. However at the root of Israel’s innovation, is the leaps and strides the country has made in developing varieties of produce that are more effective and conducive for cultivation.
With the development of the Agricultural Research Organization, a government institute devoted agricultural research and growth, Israel has made milestones in the field, bringing new varieties to the table. Varieties that often excel in flavor, longevity and survival. Here are four fruit varieties that exemplify Israel’s contribution to the world of agriculture.
The Jaffa orange was the the agricultural product that put the region on the map. The shamuti orange which originated in Asia, became a staple crop in the region for it’s thick shell and its sweet interior. Recently, to replicate the benefits of the orange, the Jaffa Orri mandarin was developed by the wing of the ARO known as the Volcani Research Center. This mandarin has made an impact in the citrus industry as it boasts an “excellent, fresh and sweet flavor” with a minimal number of seeds. Most importantly, the long shelf lives of these mandarins, make it the perfect fruit for export.
Although grape tomatoes have existed well before 1948 and believed to originate in South America, it was Professor Haim Rabinowitch and Nachum Kadar and his research team at Hebrew University that produced a strain of grape tomatoes that are coveted for their strong taste and resilience in hot weather. This variety, which ripen slowly and are grown in rows, are better for packaging and shipping, thus it’s this variety that are largely responsible for the spread of grape tomatoes around the world. Prior to 1970’s and 80’s grape tomatoes were not sold commercially, but thanks to the contributions of using genes to slow down ripening from Hebrew University, they became ready for the commercial market.
Originally hailing from India, the mango has become an important stronghold for Israel’s agricultural landscape. In the state alone, there are nine registered patents on nine different varieties. The most popular varieties, the May and the Shelli, are known for their soft and edible peel and their robust flavor. Israel’s development with mango varieties has massively increased the mango’s yield. Today Israel holds the highest crop yield per acre for mangos in the world.
After years of research, the Volcani Institute discovered the genome in apricots that is responsible for how the fruit reacts to temperature changes, thus they were able to develop a number of apricot varieties that weathered hot temperatures better. Those varieties include the DANIEL and Nitzan apricots which boast to have early ripening patterns, with vigorous growth, and a deep, rich flavor. The heat tolerant apricots developed in Israel has further implications, as it will be pivotal in helping to grow and harvest a variety of fruits that will have to endure the higher temperatures caused by global warming.