The Story of Producing High Quality Natural and Edible
Organic Jojoba Oil in Palestine and Jordan
This introduction of jojoba oil production to Palestine and Jordan is by Dr. Said A. Assaf who with limited resources succeeded by the adoption of the basic methods and techniques of olive oil production by his forefathers and with modifications to fit current technology, culture and needs.
Jojoba was introduced over 35 years ago by Professor Assaf for cultivation as a permanent plant to produce a high quality edible grade, medicinal and cosmetic jojoba oil in Palestine and Jordan, countries well known for olive oil production. Professor Said A. Assaf has all his education in the USA with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics, an M.S. in Food Science and Technology and a B.S. in Agriculture following a Diploma in an agriculture school in Tulkarem, Palestine.
He is known in the scientific literature for his publications on enzyme’s protein structure and function after their isolation, purification, crystallization and characterization with emphasis on thrombotic heart disease and the control of blood platelet aggregation by enzymes of the protein kinase system for which he won in 1976 a large NIH USA government research grant at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Texas.
As a research biochemist, his interest in jojoba oil use and production came about after he was delegated by the Union of Arab Universities in 1976 to come to Palestine to start academic programs in Biomedical Science as a basis for establishing medical colleges in the West Bank – starting first at Birzeit University and then at both Najah National University and the University of Jerusalem in El-Bireh/Ramallah and Abu Dies where a College of Nursing and Laboratory Medicine was started by him in El-Bireh to become later part of the University of Jerusalem in Abu Dies.
Professor Assaf’s desires and interest in research made him start in 1981 a scientific research institute called ASIR (Arab Scientific Institute for Research and Technology) with analytical and field studies in the Institute’s headquarters in Ramallah and field experimentation and demonstrations in the Institute’s branches in the Jenin District for plant seeding production and hybrid animal production of the ASSAF sheep breed. For these purposes, he rented and owned field facilities with a nursery for olive trees, thyme and other herbal plants, and jojoba.
After studying the situation and writing papers and publishing studies on food security and the needs for an appropriate technology which can provide economic development in an area with arid and limited lands, poor water resources and controlled access to whatever water was available, he traveled to the USA and learned in the late seventies of the intensive research being done by the University of Arizona in Tucson and the University of California at Riverside who were just starting research experiments to propagate jojoba plants in greenhouses to be planted in permanent land. He rented a car and travelled in the desert area between the area of Phoenix and Tucson where he observed the green jojoba plants on the dry desert hilly sides with jojoba nuts on the ground from which he collected some of his first jojoba seeds.
He secured after that a few hundred kilograms of jojoba seeds (nuts) and began in 1978 a small nursery in the Jenin area of Sabah El Khair. The first plot for permanent jojoba trees was started in 1981 about 150 meters from the Arrabeh/Jenin crossroad where there is a privately owned gas station. This plot was about 4 donums (one USA acre).
Other jojoba plots a few years later were started by Dr. Assaf in Deir Ghazaleh (northwest of Jenin, a few hundred meters from the Israeli border – about 40 donums, 10 US acres), then at Wadi Douq hills and valleys about 80 donums (20 US acres) and later on 70 donums of land he purchased near the Jordanian international airport in the town of Al Qunaitrah of Zeezyah area and this was the only plot cultivated under supplemental irrigation as the others in Palestine were all dry-farmed, i.e., rain-fed.
Since olive cultivation and production has been part of the people’s interest and culture for many years, Professor Assaf always had olives, and his jojoba plantations are intercropped together. In fact, with his interest in Palestinian olive oil production and unique qualities resulted in several of his publications on Palestinian olive oil such as the “Chemical and Physical Properties of Palestinian Olive Oil from Various Palestinian Districts and from Various Olive Presses”, and “Guidelines for the Production of High Quality Palestinian Olive Oil”. With President Arafat’s approval, he helped join Palestine in the IOOC (the International Olive Oil Council) in Madrid. His lab and assistants’ analytical work and field data provided backing for the various studies on olive oil and jojoba oil. Additionally, the work on water resources and management by his wife, Dr. Karen Assaf, provided the needed information on water use problems and opportunities in Palestine and Jordan.
With all this background and the need to have an exportable and reliable crop which would supplement that of olives for both the Palestinian and Jordan people, Professor Assaf made his efforts and financial resources all concentrated on jojoba and olive production with more concentration on producing high qualities of these highly valuable oils. For jojoba (which if left alone will make multi-stems, sometimes over 12 stems), , the concentration was to produce well-pruned trees after their first three years of growth which in the case of jojoba are not only essential but necessary to form a single stem to insure producing fresh and healthy jojoba nuts from the jojoba trees rather than from multi-stem bushes which jojoba tends to make. This was necessary for jojoba in order to avoid collecting or harvesting any unhealthy unfresh crop. For olives to reject including any olive fruits which fall prior to harvest due to infestation by worms, or by wind or other means. For jojoba, the matter is more critical because unlike olives which remain on the trees until shaken or hand-picked, most of the jojoba nuts fall by themselves at the end of summer in August and whatever remains on the trees fall by gentle shaking. For this reason, all the jojoba trees managed by Professor Assaf are heavily pruned yearly to adapt them into making a single stem tree starting from the first three years to adapt them to make one stem, as olive trees do naturally.
It is to be noted that jojoba trees take nearly 15 years to produce economically whereas olive trees take about 10 years – and that depends on climatic conditions, soil and care of trees.
In growing jojoba as trees (and not as bushes), the ground under the jojoba trees is cultivated easily and the weeds are removed by tractor and whatever remains is removed by hoeing using cultivation tools. This is not done anywhere else in the world which results in having bad quality jojoba nuts and hence bad quality jojoba oil.
Currently female jojoba plants in Palestine and Jordan are all pruned and shaped to form trees at distances of 4 x 4 meters or 3.5 x 4 meters apart. The jojoba males which only are to provide flowers are not pruned but left as bushes as is the case with all jojoba plants males and females all over the world which grow together into a fence over the years. Even though these closely grown jojoba plants produce a higher yield because all stems have the capacity to produce, the harvested nuts are mixed with old and new and thus the oil quality is poor. Therefore, jojoba nuts collected in the jojoba plantations of Professor Assaf while of less yield are all hand-picked fresh and are of the same year’s crop whereas the jojoba collected elsewhere where they are vacuum sucked or swept for collection have other previous years’ jojoba nuts which include the rotten and spoiled dehydrated or swollen nuts, and hence poorer quality oil when mixed and pressed with the new jojoba nuts.
It is to be emphasized that the jojoba oil produced under the supervision of Professor Assaf is not only organic with organic certification, but also naturally fresh of the same year’s fresh crop and of edible grade which Professor Assaf and his family use for cooking and use as a diet oil with no triglyceride fats.. To have this high quality jojoba oil is costly, not only because of the hand-picking required but also because many of the hundreds of stems and shoots the jojoba plant tends to form and which carry fruits are cut and removed by pruning and hence the yield for pruned single stem jojoba trees is less BUT the quality is higher and the antioxidant and vitamin values of jojoba oil obtained is much greater and more stable.
For a Summary on Quality, read the Distinguished Properties of Palestinian Jojoba Oil and see the website www.jojobassaf.com, and papers in Jojoba Happenings and many of the pamphlets on jojoba and olive oil by Professor Said Assaf.
The Distinguished Properties of Palestinian Extra Virgin Jojoba Oil and the
Benefits of Using it as a Source of Natural Liquid Cosmetic Material
- All Palestinian Jojoba Oil is produced from hand-picked jojoba nuts (seeds).
- Palestinian jojoba nuts are obtained under dry organic-farmed conditions (with no chemicals) from hilly regions of the West Bank.
- The Palestinian jojoba nuts are sun-dried for several days to the point of sterilization before pressing.
- The Palestinian Jojoba Oil produced is cold-pressed with the temperature of the oil not exceeding 40 degrees Centigrade during pressing.
- The Palestinian Jojoba Oil is produced in a press in a mountainous area in the north of the West Bank protected from any environmental pollution.
- The Palestinian Jojoba Oil is extra virgin with acidity less than 1%, very low or nil peroxide value, and is naturally golden yellow because it is hand-picked year-by-year using the shiny ripe golden seeds. Palestinian Jojoba Oil does not contain dark dead jojoba seeds or impurities from the ground as obtained with mechanical harvesting in the industrial countries which farm jojoba.
- Palestinian Jojoba Oil is naturally ultra-pure, triple filtered and is even good to eat. In fact, Palestinians use it as a drink for an anti-cough remedy, and for the frying of various foods. All one has to do is try it as did the Red Indians in the USA.
- Palestinian Jojoba Oil can be placed on all sensitive parts of the body and penetrates the skin within seconds without leaving any trace of oil, or any adverse affects as it is 100% pure and natural. It is a liquid wax and not an oil.
- Palestinian Jojoba Oil is produced from well-pruned jojoba trees that now look like olive trees insuring that the long-lived trees will be a constant supply. Palestinian jojoba orchards are not bushy fields that get abandoned as happened elsewhere.
- The supply of Palestinian Jojoba Oil will be increasing year-by-year because there are now over 15,000 young jojoba trees in Palestine and 5,000 is Jordan near the airport – and all are growing and producing more and more each season under the care and supervision of Dr. Assaf.