ARTOLIO partner Giora Ben-Ari, from Israel: “I think what is unique in ARTOLIO is that there is face-to-face training and guidance of the farmers.”
The ARTOLIO team is made up of a group of extremely talented people who are passionate about what they do, engaged and driven. They direct their efforts to improve the situation of small extra virgin olive oil producers, to help upgrade the quality of their production and their introduction to the market. All these efforts, however, must be coordinated and taken in the right direction.
Giora Ben-Ari, partner and coordinator of ARTOLIO from the Volcani Institute of Israel, is responsible for the management of the project. To do so, he relies on each partner in their area of expertise. Therefore, his leadership is a cooperation with the Project Management Team, that is divided in sections like agronomy, business and marketing, and communication. Giora coordinates their efforts and keeps in contact with them regularly. Additionally, he’s the one who brings together the comments made by partners about the decisions made.
When asked about the progress of the project, Giora adds “The project progressed exactly as expected. Although we had some problems due to the COVID-19 restrictions at the beginning, I think we overcame all problems, performed all planned activities, and even added some activities that were not in the original proposal.” This is the result of the various meetings and agreements that have been made along the years in which the project has been active. In total, Giora organized three face-to-face events: last March, the first ARTOLIO meeting in Jaen, Spain, and this last month, the second meeting in Thessaloniki. They were the perfect opportunity to push forward the progress that project has made since the beginning, especially now that the harvest season is about to come. Additionally, in February 2022, there was a special meeting of all the farmers from Israel and Palestine in Giora’s institute, Volcani Institute. There were 21 people, and they were introduced to the management point of view of the ARTOLIO’s project. Then, they discussed the Israeli olive breeding program, and the farmers were given to try olive oils and fruits for tasting that were a result of the program’s new olive cultivar.
Giora hopes for ARTOLIO to continue in the future, to ensure that the farmers the project is helping now manage to thrive and last, especially in a market that is full of misinformation and competition.
“I think what is unique in ARTOLIO is that, unlike other EU projects that I know of, there is face-to-face training and guidance of the farmers. Usually, experts know a lot, but the information doesn’t get to the fields, it stays on paper. In the ARTOLIO project, the experts are obligated to visit the farmers at least once a month. This creates feedback and the farmers feel compelled to apply those recommendations into their way of working. Also, when neighbor farmers see the success, it creates a rippling effect that perpetuates new ways of cultivating; ways that are sustainable and innovative.”