The Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences (FNHS) at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) participated in a seminar titled, "The Effect of Agro-Industrial Practices on the Quality of Olive Oil and the Environment in Hasbaya City," which was held on January 23, 2018, in Dar Hasbaya. Olive growing and olive oil extraction specialist and researcher at the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) Tal Amara Dr. Milad el-Riachy delivered the seminar.
In attendance were LARI Board of Directors Chairman and General Director Dr. Michel Afram; Deputy Anwar Khalil, represented by Dr. Amin Shmis; Mayor of Hasbaya Labib al-Hamra; and NDU researchers, Associate Professors Dr. Jaqueline Doumit and Dr. Christelle Bou-Mitri as well as municipality heads, judicial justices, representatives of agricultural cooperatives and public institutions, and farmers from the Hasbaya region.
This seminar aimed to disseminate among olive oil farmers the results of a collaborative National Council for Scientific Research-Lebanon (CNRS-L)-funded research project titled, “Influence of Agro-industrial Practices on Lebanese Olive Oil Sector,” carried out at LARI Tal Amara and Hasbaya, NDU, Saint Joseph University (USJ), and LIVCD/USAID.
Dr. El-Riachy tackled the importance of olive oil around the world, given that it is a 100 percent natural product; its health benefits; the latest studies on the best ways to produce it, and its principal agricultural practices, ranging from planting the tree and oil extraction to proper storage, in order to preserve the high-quality produce. He echoed the research findings by saying, “The Hasbaya region could certainly produce extra virgin olive oil with high chemical and sensory properties, provided the use of good agro-industrial practices.”
Good agro-industrial practices include:
(1) Close monitoring of the olive fruit in the field.
(2) Early olive harvest.
(3) Collection and transportation in plastic crates.
(4) Pressing the olives within the first 24 hours of picking.
(5) Using modern separation techniques, principally the modern two-phase decanter system.
Dr. El-Riachy also noted the low rate of environmental pollution in Hasbaya compared with other areas in Lebanon.
He also emphasized that using the two-phase decanter system would result in reducing the pollution-causing wastewater discarded by olive mills.
In conclusion, he stated that work and efforts would continue to better identify wrong practices that tend to diminish olive quality and promised that more guidance would be provided to reduce the waste deposits that may adversely affect the soil and environment.