Near the Beit Dagan meteorological institute in central Israel are the orchards of the Volcani Center, also known as the Agricultural Research Organiztion. This government institute is devoted to agricultural research and development, and in general to helping local farmers solve problems. To the right, as one passes through the electric gate, is a litchee grove, followed by the avocados; the citrus tress are to the left.
Dr. Yuval Cohen , a researcher in the Volcani’s plant research department, enthusiastically points out the different trees. “The Volcani Center,” he explains, “is a leader in improving the crop of fruit trees. We work with olives, figs, apples, pears, apricots, avocados, grapes, citrus fruit, pomegranates, almonds, guava and litchee.”
But it soon becomes clear which fruit Cohen is most proud of: the mangoes whoes groves now spread out on either side. He knows every single tree in the orchard, and lovingly hurries from one to the next, picking, examining and tasting fruit as he goes, all the while energetically explaining things to is visitor.
The Israeli mango project was so successful, that while improving the strains produced here and their growing conditions, Israel now boasts the the world’s highest crop yield per acre (an acre is equivalent to four dunams), Local farmers, in both the country’s north and south, today produce three to four times more fruit per acre than in most countries where the mango is grown commercially, where the yield is generally just our tons per acre. Geographically, Israel is the northernmost point in the world where mangoes are commercially grown. In fact, it’s quite surprising that the fruit grows so well here.
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