International “Olive Tree” Day… Happy memories fight against the “painful present”

International “Olive Tree” Day… Happy memories fight against the “painful present”

Climate change has taken its toll

Sunday – 4th of Jumada al-Awwal 1444 Hijri year – November 27, 2022.

An olive fan who welcomes the International Day with memories of the past and challenges of the present (Source: Association of olive fans in Greece «mia elia»)

Cairo: Hazem Badr

On Saturday, November 26, the world celebrated International Olive Day, the day chosen by UNESCO and the International Olive Council as International Tree Day, at a time when some farmers were leaving their olive groves and others, such as Khaled Shawkat, were still They hold. Giving the tree all the attention and care, refusing to abandon it, after climate change affected its production.
Shawkat, originally from the Egyptian governorate of North Sinai, has happy memories of harvesting olives during the summer, and it is these memories that challenge the painful present of the tree, make him cling to it and look for tools to resist climate change, which has begun to affect its production.
And while the world celebrated “Saturday” the International Olive Day, the day chosen by UNESCO and the International Olive Council on November 26 as the International Day of the Tree, Shawkat found an opportunity in this international occasion to remind his peers of the gratitude of trees to them, speaking in tone enveloped in grief: « Remember his grace towards you and do not turn your back on him, and let us fight together against what causes climate change.
The productivity of olive trees has decreased by more than half during the last seasons, because the trees cannot meet the needs of the cold, because of the high temperatures, which requires special treatments, which some farmers are not used to, according to Hosni. El-Sheikh, professor at the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Assiut (southern Egypt).
Olive trees also need a few hours of cold in the winter, because they need an average of 100 to 150 hours to bloom in the spring. Due to climate change and temperature fluctuations during the winter season, the required flowering of the tree was not achieved, and crop production was reduced in the 2021 season. Shawkat and his peers, who were clinging to their trees, began to look for tools of persistence that they could rely on in the face of these changes. .
Shawkat told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There are different practices in fertilization as well as tree pruning that farmers can follow to reduce damage, and we have been able to use them to reduce damage during the 2022 season.” He adds: “These procedures can be a little expensive and do not bring us income from the tree at the same rates as in the past, but at least they preserve the life and continuity of the tree.”
The olive tree holds great value in the life of Shawkat and his peers, prompting them to cling to it while looking for yet another extra job to provide the necessities of life. But its ecological and moral balance should encourage the governments of the Mediterranean countries, which own 98 percent of the total area under olive trees in the world, to pay more attention to this tree, which is described as a “blessed tree”.
On the occasion of World Tree Day (Saturday), a group of olive lovers in Greece reminded the world of the ecological, moral and nutritional importance of the tree. Tree lovers state on their website «mia elia» that there are several reasons that compel them to celebrate this day, one of which is that olives are beneficial for the environment in many ways. It contributes to the preservation of natural resources and biodiversity and acts in the fight against global warming and desertification, because evidence shows that growing olives increases the fixation of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the soil.
Also, this blessed tree yields olives and olive oil, both of which are very nutritious and healthy. These are the two main components of the Mediterranean diet. And many famous chefs include it in their recipes as proof of high quality and nutritional value.
Olive oil is known for its antioxidant properties and therapeutic value, and research shows that it can prevent many diseases, such as cancer, heart problems, arthritis and obesity.
In addition to these nutritional and ecological values, there is also a moral value represented by the fact that the olive tree is one of the most beloved trees in human history, because people have considered it sacred since the time of ancient Greece, and its branches have always been a symbol of longevity, peace, harmony, growth , resurrection and friendship. She has also inspired many artists, poets and writers around the world.
Tree lovers say on their website: “We always celebrate this day around the table with family and friends. We enjoy homemade delicacies made from fresh olive oil.”
UNESCO declared this day (International Olive Day) at the fortieth session of the organization’s General Conference in 2019, based on the proposal of the governments of Lebanon and Tunisia. He says on his website: “The olive tree, and especially the olive branch, occupies an important place in the minds of men and women. Since ancient times, this branch has been used as a symbol of peace, wisdom and harmony, and is therefore important not only to the countries where these noble trees grow, but also to people and communities around the world.”
UNESCO encourages everyone to participate through various activities, such as discussions, conferences, workshops, cultural events, presentations or exhibitions.
While UNESCO encourages these cultural activities, Hosni Al-Sheikh, a professor at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Assiut (southern Egypt), encourages Shawkat and his fellow farmers to continue their approach of not neglecting the tree and resisting climate change.
Al-Sheikh told Asharq Al-Awsat that “one of the reasons for this problem (neglect of olive cultivation in Egypt) is the expansion of the use of foreign varieties that need cooler weather than local varieties.”
And he continues: “Besides the various pruning and fertilizing practices appropriate to climate change, which farmers should know well, we encourage them to return to the production of domestic varieties.”





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