28 Aug

Jordan’s Olive production expected to drop by 40 per cent this season

The Kingdom’s olive production is expected to drop by 40 per cent this season, yielding some 124,800 tonnes, preliminary Agriculture Ministry estimates indicate.

Known for its “alternate bearing habit”, under which olive production peaks in alternate years, this season’s produce was expected to yield more than last year, when the country harvested around 243,500 tonnes of olives, of which 44,848 tonnes were allocated for domestic consumption and 198,683 tonnes were used to produce olive oil.

Director of the Agriculture Ministry’s olive unit Jamal Batsh said weather conditions and water shortages contributed to the drop in this year’s productivity.

“This season’s decrease in production was affected by the low quantities of rainfall in different parts of the Kingdom, in addition to heat waves that prevailed during the flowering times in areas dependent on rainwater, which account for 77 per cent of land cultivated with olives,” Batsh told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.

He added that around 17,000 tonnes of olive oil are expected to be generated from some 10,000 tonnes of this season’s olives, while the remaining quantities will be allocated for domestic consumption.

Official statistics indicate that the Kingdom’s annual per capita consumption of olive oil stands at 4.06kg, placing this year’s demand at 23,710 tonnes of olive oil, with an expected deficit of 6,600 tonnes to affect consumers, Batsh noted.

“The ministry’s decision to allow olive oil imports is designed to offset the expected shortages in olive oil supply as well as address the expected increase in prices,” he added, noting that around 80,000 Jordanian families are dependent on the sector.

According to the ministry, there are around 17 million fruit-bearing olive trees in the Kingdom covering 1.28 million dunums, 34 per cent of the country’s overall agricultural lands.

There are currently some 106 olive presses in the country, with a combined capacity of producing 280 tonnes of olive oil per hour.

“These presses are closely monitored through various agricultural directorates in the Kingdom during and after the pressing season to ensure their compliance with the ministry’s environment-friendly procedures for disposal of excess residue,” he said, adding that ministry staff follow up on any complaints lodged by the public against the presses.

Jordan, which joined the International Olive Council in December 2002, will hold the council’s presidency next year, Batsh said. The Kingdom currently holds the council’s vice president post.

“This new position will strengthen the Kingdom’s influence among olive-producing countries,” Batsh said, adding that the government has signed several international agreements that will enable the country’s olive exports to penetrate European markets.

He highlighted that 70 per cent of the annual olive oil production is sold directly to Jordanian citizens during the pressing season, which starts in October and lasts until December, while the remaining 30 per cent is marketed to wholesale and retail dealers.

Between 2005 and 2007 the Kingdom exported an average of 1,900 tonnes of olive oil and 6,100 tonnes of olives to various countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, US, Russia, Romania, Italy, France, Switzerland, India, Indonesia, Canada, Qatar, Syria, Israel, Britain, Croatia among others.

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