The olive tree is essential to the Palestinian economy. Around 12 million olive trees cover 40 percent of the cultivated area of the West Bank. Over 80 percent of agricultural land is planted with olive trees.
Many olive trees in Palestine are thousands of years old. It is thought that olive trees survive so long because the leaf and fruit contain oleuropein. Known as one of nature’s antibiotics, this polyphenol is said to be a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent that protects trees – and people – from disease.
After harvesting the olive crop, pruned leaves and branches are usually burnt. Part of Palolea’s innovative strategy is to purchase these discarded leaves and branches and process them into olive leaf extract. This provides farms in the West Bank with a new source of income. Palolea also helps with pruning to ensure a healthy crop next season.
Palolea has gathered over 40 tons of leaves ready for production of olive leaf extract in 2014.