Kibbutz Hatzerim in the Negev, owner of Jojoba Israel Ltd. (100% ownership), is currently one of Israel’s largest growers and manufacturers of Jojoba - and one of the key players in the global jojoba market. Its philosophy is to turn our world into a better place to live. The kibbutz uses a sustainable approach to the environment and its resources, which enables the re-use of resources such as water, sun and waste produced by man, and it tries to impart its accumulated knowledge and lifestyle to others.
The kibbutz’s largest project - the Netafim plant - began operation in 1964, using low-volume drip-irrigation methods, which increase the yield, allow for use of marginal water and marginal land worldwide, and increase the irrigation efficiency of every cubic meter of water.
Hatzerim’s members’ knowledge regarding the use of state-of-the-art irrigation methods has been in use since 1988, when the idea of a ‘green garden’ surrounding the kibbutz began to take shape. The idea that this revolutionary irrigation method could also help the kibbutz turn its desert landscape into a huge flourishing garden by growing desert plants was very exciting. Members of Hatzerim wanted a crop that would suit the desert landscape, consume less water by using drip irrigation, would not require the use of chemical pesticides that pollute the environment, and would also spread the word about green cosmetics to people worldwide.
All these features are embodied in one wonderful plant: Jojoba.
The Jojoba Plant - a new crop, both internationally and particularly in our region, was brought to Israel at the beginning of the 1960s, with the idea of ‘covering’ the entire Israeli Negev with this plant, in order to produce a lubricating oil for fast engines. This oil, which is really a liquid wax rather than an oil, is capable of withstanding high temperatures, which attracted the attention of scientists. Considerable efforts were invested in acclimatization; and after much difficulty, the plant was acclimatized and new Israeli strains were created. At the beginning of the 1980s, when the idea of using Jojoba as a lubricant was abandoned, the project was almost shut down. In short, the difficulties in turning the plant into an industrial crop were too big for someone who did not have sufficient agricultural technology and industrial know-how to overcome.
However, Kibbutz Hatzerim possessed these elements, as well as great desire to reduce desert conditions at the kibbutz - and this was their key to success!
Ever since Kibbutz Hatzerim took this crop under its wing, it has slowly made it the Negev’s central crop - which is not coincidental.
The Jojoba plant has slowly and surely assumed its position as the Israeli Negev’s main crop in the global cosmetics market. The miraculous feature of the oil, whose molecular structure is almost identical to the structure of human sebum, was identified by the world’s largest cosmetics manufacturers. The fact that the oil originates from a plant whose molecular structure is identical to that of a living organism has led to its increased us by green cosmetics manufacturers.
An interesting aspect related to this molecular similarity relates to the efforts to save the oceans’ whales. In the past, the cosmetics industry has made use of whale oil in order to manufacture various cosmetic products. Since whales are mammals - as are humans - their oil is ‘user-friendly’ for humans; and consequently, it is has been used by the cosmetics industry for many years.
Currently, Jojoba oil serves as the perfect alternative to whale oil. We can proudly say that the cultivation and use of Jojoba prevents the hunting of whales, whose number has drastically decreased in the past 100 years as a direct result of being hunted by man.
Jojoba growers, worldwide, have united to directly support international whale protection organizations in their efforts to ban whaling in the oceans.
1. Maintaining a green area surrounding the kibbutz - Upon the arrival of the first settlers to the Negev in 1946, the area was definitely a desert. At first, the young settlers tried to turn the area within the kibbutz into a thriving green garden. This was the right thing to do both from an environmental and human aspect. The connection between the settlers and their land, renewed after 2,000 years of exile, was a strong bond. The relationship between the members of Hatzerim and their surroundings, and primarily to the flora, was expressed in the names given to the new groups of children born on the kibbutz. They were always given names related to the world of plants. The Hazerim members’ attempts to grow different crops were successful only after flushing away the saline from the fields of the kibbutz, whose surrounding area was desert land. The wells scattered across the region have always been a source of life for the flocks of sheep passing through the region on their way to the green pastures of the north during the summer. The desert land remained abandoned, saline and ready for the renewal brought by the next winter.
The substantial disparity between the expansive land resource that remained abandoned due to a shortage of water and due to its saline nature - and the settlers’ desire to make the desert bloom - was solved by the development of new irrigation methods and the flushing away of the land’s saline.
Growing jojoba as a desert plant with modern irrigation methods - decreases the desert traits and stops the desertification process!
2. Use of Reclaimed Water - The kibbutz’s entire drainage system is connected to a water reservoir, where the water undergoes oxygenation and is reclaimed for subterranean irrigation of the Jojoba fields. No drop of water goes to waste! The use of special drippers for subterranean irrigation is a pioneer model developed at Hatzerim, and has been used in the kibbutz’s jojoba fields for dozens of years. The subterranean irrigation offers many advantages, particularly conservation of water and direct nourishment for the plant roots. Use of reclaimed water for agricultural purposes, instead of dumping it into the sea or letting it penetrate the fresh water aquifer, is a remarkable environmental advantage!
3. Use of Renewable Solar Energy - Kibbutz Hatzerim has created a solar energy field on 11 hectares of land in the jojoba fields. The field generates 6 mega watts of electricity - free of environmental pollution! The combination of the jojoba and energy fields is an excellent format for the use of the extensive land resources and the abundant available sunlight in the Negev, in order to generate alternatives to petroleum based energy sources!
4. Use of Renewable Energy from Discarded Waste - The electrical system at Kibbutz Hatzerim is connected to a turbine operated by methane gas located in the Dudaim Landfill Site. As part of its environmental protection philosophy, the kibbutz continues to use green energy generated from alternative sources in order to protect the environment!
5. Reuse of Jojoba Pulp - During the process of manufacturing the oil, pulp is created from the jojoba seeds. This pulp has many features needed for the production of cosmetic products; however, we also use it to fertilize the jojoba fields. As a dry material, the pulp can absorb liquid up to 10 times its volume. The kibbutz members take advantage of this feature and spread the pulp in the kibbutz’s cowsheds. The pulp absorbs the cows’ secretions and after proper processing, the pulp-enriched cow waste is reused to fertilize the jojoba fields!
The Jojoba industry and the process of extracting the liquid wax are undergoing an accelerated development process, which will lead to a future in which jojoba will be increasingly used as a raw material in many future cosmetic products.
Jojoba Israel and Kibbutz Hatzerim will continue to develop and expand this segment in order to spread the word regarding Jojoba to many people across the globe. We believe that the increased cultivation of jojoba will lead to an increase in its use and will reduce the need for whaling.
Expanding the fields will always be executed with a commitment to environmental protection, in order to ensure a better world for coming generations.