Shadi Atallah “Production, postharvest and economic potentials of Origanum syriacum as a new crop in Lebanon
The potential of Origanum syriacum of becoming a new crop in Lebanon is investigated at the production, postharvest and economic levels. Three irrigation schemes were tested on growth parameters of cultivated oregano plants: 16 liters per plant irrigated once in three weeks (low), once in two weeks (medium) and once a week (high). Results showed that the medium irrigation scheme was the most appropriate with a considerable increase of the herbage (56.34%) and hydro-distilled essential oil yields (55.22%) when compared with the lowest level and no significant difference when compared with the highest level. GC/MS analysis of the oil proved no change in the essential oil composition due to irrigation. Drying oregano leaves in three different conditions (air-drying, oven-drying at 30?C and freeze-drying) proved air-drying to be the most appropriate drying technique for oregano. Descriptive sensory analysis showed that air-dried samples were characterized by a strong, warm, bitter, pungent and astringent flavor as well as strong, pungent, and camphoraceous aroma with a grayish green color, while freeze-dried samples had an undesired earthy/musty aroma and oven-dried oregano leaves had a brown color. Finally, a cost-benefit analysis confirmed the economic potential of Origanum syriacum in three of four different economic feasibility scenarios: zaatar production, herbal tea and zaatar production, spice production and essential oil production. Net Present Values ranged from (-677,406) to 562,301 USD and Benefit Cost Ratios from 0.5341 to 5.1993 for a ten dunum five year life cycle oregano production farm with the latter scenario having the highest economic feasibility.
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