With the imminent advent of the olive harvest season, the agriculture ministry on Wednesday said it will employ marketing procedures to help farmers sell their olive oil.
Ministry of Agriculture Secretary General Radi Tarawneh explained yesterday that even if there is a surplus of olives and olive oil this year, the ministry will help farmers market their produce "as it does every year".
He added that the civil and military consumer corporations and the Economic Social Association of Retired Servicemen and Veterans will buy extra amounts of olive oil that farmers cannot market.
Tarawneh also noted that the Royal Court always buys locally produced olive oil to be included in Hashemite Charity Caravan food parcels that are distributed to underprivileged families and "will do so again this year".
"If these measures do not help market the expected surplus of olives and olive oil, the ministry will grant export permits to all traders interested in selling Jordanian olive oil abroad," he said.
In a bid to regulate the market ahead of the harvest, a ban on imports is currently in place, according to Tarawneh.
Jordan Farmers Union (JFU) Director General Mahmoud Ouran, who also expected a surplus in olive production this year, noted that "the problem has been always with the olive oil imported to the Kingdom".
"If Jordanians consume locally produced olive oil and traders buy the produce, there will definitely be no surplus whatsoever," he pointed out.
Oran said the government should maintain a constant ban on olive oil imports and not just ahead of the harvest season in order to help farmers sell their "high-quality" produce in the local market at reasonable prices.
"A major problem that causes irregularities in the sector is that big traders buy farmers' olive oil and then export it without paying heed to the country's needs," the JFU director general charged.
He claimed that traders sell Jordanian olives to other countries, including Israel, to be pressed and labelled as their product.
"A major solution to such chaos in the sector is establishing a higher council for Jordanian olive oil," Oran said.
Jordan is the world's eighth largest producer of olive oil, with 17 million olive trees generating around 20 to 24 tonnes of oil every year, according to sector representatives.
The Kingdom's olive production last year amounted to 150,000 tonnes that yielded around 24,000 tonnes of olive oil.
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