Research at the service of olive oil at its world congress

Rosa Gallardo

Published by: Efeagro

The next World Olive Oil Congress (OOWC) will be held in Madrid in June 2024 with the active participation of researchers from around the world working side by side with the sector. This was remarked to Efeagro by the president of its scientific committee and director of the School of Agricultural Engineering and Forestry (Etsiam) of the University of Cordoba, Rosa Gallardo.

The operators of the value chain of the olive grove and the olive oil at world-wide level will meet in the headquarters of the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations (CSIC) of Madrid between June 26 and 28 of the next year. The scientific committee of the congress has been working for more than six months in the elaboration of a program that, according to Gallardo, will deal with the situation of a "strategic sector, with future, which is going through a complicated moment".

Diverse program

The program will be divided into blocks: genetics and production, elaboration process, product quality, sensory properties, food safety, health and nutrition, sustainability, communication and international marketing. Spain, the world's largest producer of olive oil, has seen its production halved this season as a result of the drought, which has led to price peaks that are reducing local consumption and exports.

The OOWC will bring together leading researchers and industry representatives who will discuss the most important issues for olive oil such as quality, sustainability, consumption or circular economy, according to Gallardo. "We will also talk about water and, of course, the need to optimize resources in this crop with a value chain approach. Much attention will also be paid to everything related to the processing industry of this product," he says.

Faced with the impact of drought, the president of the scientific committee stresses the importance of promoting intelligent and precision irrigation in the olive grove, for which the sector has digital tools, artificial intelligence and new technologies in general. "Today it is possible to make an intelligent planning of the entire operation of irrigation communities to be able to anticipate what is going to happen and make a more optimal use of resources," she explains.

International collaboration

For Gallardo, it is about working together to improve the situation of the olive sector, for which they want to have the presence of international speakers from research centers and companies from different countries. Thus they will be able to share the advances and the many research projects that aim to improve the use of regenerated water in the olive grove or to develop varieties more resistant to the drought from the genetic point of view.

The director of the Etsiam of the University of Cordoba considers that there will also be an opportunity to create alliances or strengthen those that already exist, in addition to reflecting on the same problems from different perspectives.

"I think it is very interesting to promote work in common to know the results of the projects that are already underway or even to be able to design or promote new ones that allow us to better respond to the current challenges and problems of the sector," she adds. Gallardo emphasizes the "prominence" that olive oil has in the field of health as a healthy fat, a value that needs to be communicated to society.

"In addition, we are talking about a crop that is strategically important for the viability of the territories where it is grown, so there are many dimensions and aspects that we must address to build a better future for this sector together," she says.

Under the slogan "Test it, enjoy, it's olive oil", the OOWC is a project launched by Agrifood Comunicación with AgroBank, the boards of Castilla-La Mancha and Andalusia, and the companies Grupo Interóleo, Balam Agriculture, Agrocolor and Kubota as sponsors.