New Israeli innovation could mean more avocados for everyone in the near future

Researchers at MIGAL Galilee Research Institute have developed a way to produce avocado starts in sterile tissue cultures- a global first.

 Dr. Lior Rubinovich in the experimental part of the new avocado seedlings (photo credit: MIGAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE)
Dr. Lior Rubinovich in the experimental part of the new avocado seedlings
(photo credit: MIGAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE)

The simple avocado is one of life’s simple pleasures, and while the tender, fatty fruit is currently enjoying wild popularity, it’s expected that consumer interest will only continue to grow.

In 2018, the global avocado market was estimated at $13 billion. By 2026, that number is expected to increase to $21.6b. That means farmers would do well to find ways to meet rising demand.

Israel is already doing fairly well in producing a decent amount of avocados. The country’s hot Mediterranean climate is great for growing the plants.

Around 14,000 hectares (approximately 34,600 acres) of avocado groves are planted in Israel every year, providing an average of approximately 120,000 tons of fruits per year for both export and the local market.

Those numbers could soon multiply greatly, however, thanks to the MIGAL Galilee Research Institute in Kiryat Shmona.

Israel exports about 45% of its avocado produce. (credit: AGROMASHOV)Israel exports about 45% of its avocado produce. (credit: AGROMASHOV)

Who are the researchers?

Researchers at MIGAL have developed a first-of-its-kind technology that enables the rapid production of avocado seedlings in sterile tissue cultures, allowing for healthier, more reliable and faster avocado plant cloning – and in turn, more avocado production over time.

Following successful testing, the researchers at MIGAL created Bestree, a start-up dedicated to the production and marketing of avocado seedling cultures all over the world.

MIGAL vice president of business development Uri Ben-Hertzel explained, “Avocado is a difficult plant to root and so far there has not been a commercial system for propagating avocados in tissue cultures. The development of... Bestree is a great international success that will change the value chain in the avocado industry in Israel and around the world.”

“Avocado is a difficult plant to root and so far there has not been a commercial system for propagating avocados in tissue cultures,”

Uri Ben-Hertzel, Vice President of Business Development at MIGAL

He noted that currently, the process of starting avocado plants is one of the industry’s greatest bottlenecks, with large losses for farmers caused by lack of uniformity and disease. Bestree’s new method will allow the expansion of the avocado industry, he said, while increasing the export of seedlings from Israel.

Dr. Lior Rubinovich, the leader of the research projects, elaborated on the benefit of producing avocado plants via tissue culture.

“Development in tissue cultures improves the quality of the avocado seedlings, their availability and their health and ensures disease-free plants,” he said.

“Development in tissue cultures improves the quality of the avocado seedlings, their availability and their health and ensures disease-free plants,”

Dr. Lior Rubinovich, leader of the research project

Because the avocado plants produced by Bestree’s innovation are produced via tissue culture, they can now also be exported around the world.

“A majority of countries in the world only approve the import of plant propagation material derived from tissue cultures,” Rubinovich said. “This is a huge economic advantage for Bestree.”

It’s also a huge advantage for avocado-lovers everywhere.