The wide variety of fruits Israelis can enjoy all year round is expanding even more. Today there are locally grown dragon fruit, carambolas, and lichis. And every so often, another new and exotic fruit appears in the market here in Israel. The passion-fruit flourish in Israeli gardens it looks as thought this plant has always grown here.
However, it was brought to Israel by the Israel Exotic Fruit Association from South America. It had developed a tasty variant of the fruit and also supplied plant nurseries. The association has developed most of Israel’s innovative fruit. It comprises 150 to 170 volunteer members from all over Israel and of all ethnicities. The one thing in common is that they are all devoted to introducing new fruit in Israel. The association works closely with the Volcani Research Institute and the agricultural faculty of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
Avi Almogi, the recently retired director of the association and long-time member, says that growing exotic fruit in Israel is not a new thing. “The association is over 20 years old. Our aim is to encourage farmers to grow more and different varieties locally.” Asked how foreign trees and plants are made to thrive in Israel’s tiny space, he answers that the country has enough microclimates to grow almost all fruit, except for those that demand extreme temperatures. Growing them is a long process. New fruit on the supermarket shelf may represent 10 to 20 years of research and work in nursery greenhouses. “We take fruit whose natural habitat isn’t Israel, and work to acclimate them so that they thrive in Israel’s soil and climate,”
Almogi explains “For example, passion fruit. The original vines we received gave small, sour fruit. Working with the Volcani Institute that conducted the research, we developed a juicy, sweet strain.”
Anyone who relishes cheesecake topped with passion-fruit glaze knows little more about what they’re eating. Avocados are another example of the association’s work. It seems hard to believe that once avocados were unknown in Israel. Now, we eat several kinds of avocados, scions of Mexican and Guatemalan strains. Israel exports them to Europe as well.
Almogi says, “Export isn’t so important to us. We want to get the Israeli public interested, and get people to grow new fruit. In general, we aim to make all of Israel one big research facility. The farther the new fruit are dispersed, the easier to find out where they grow best”
Source: the Jerusalem Post, published on October 10, 2014. Click here for the original article.