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Olive harvest season brings concern and hope for local farmers

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Olive harvest season in Jordan is anticipated to be lower than annual average due to the lack of rain. (Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The olive harvest season recently began in Jordan, and farmers are directing their attention to their harvests. However, the lack of rain and the presence of imports from last year’s season is raising concerns amongst farmers. Still, the Ministry of Agriculture is continuing its support towards the local sector.اضافة اعلان
 
Farmer Saeed Al-Momani told Jordan News: “The olive harvest season is not just a routine event as it seems to others, it is almost like a national festival that we celebrate every year. The reason behind this is that we are used to working in this season as family and friends, so the fun is present even during this hard work.”

Momani added; “Of course, we should not neglect the financial benefit that we accrued during this season, as olives and their products are essentials in Jordanian homes. Especially pickled olives, olive oil, soap, and others.”

The annual olive harvest plays a significant role in the lives of farmers, primarily because of the fluctuations of price and quality due to various factors.

This leads to either a successful or less successful harvest season. This season, Momani said: “Production seem weak due to the little rains of the previous rainy season.”

In an interview with Jordan News, Mutassim Abu Qamar, an agricultural engineer and owner of olive orchards, said regarding the weakness of the last rain season: “The rain stops before its anticipated annual date, and the small amounts of rain we get have a great impact on the production and growth of olive trees, and on the size of the fruit, and therefore on the amount of olive oil the olives produced.”

He added: “The level of annual production has a big direct impact on the farmers.”

As for the current season, Qamar agreed that this season is weaker and “the size of the fruits is smaller than their average annual. This is because the trees themselves have been affected by the lack of rain.”

The demand and production of olive oil depend on the buyers’ financial capabilities, the quality of the produce, and the presence of competition. 

According to Qamar: “The purchasing power has decreased for several reasons, the most important of which is that some people sell fake and manufactured oil, meaning that it, not a natural oil, sells for cheaper.”

He also added that some people are selling illegally imported oil, or oil that has been tampered with to increase quantity — by using other oils and unnatural dyes — and then selling it at a much lower price.

“Unfortunately, these people promote their products in a big way at low prices, to ensure people’s demand for it, which leads to the accumulation of olive oil and the lack of demand for its purchase.”

Minister of Agriculture Khaled Al-Hanafiat, did not issue any licenses that would allow the import of oil from abroad. 

The farmer Abdel Karim Hazaimeh said that: “This decision is very important, as last year the imports of olive oil caused local olive oil sales to decrease.” 
Hazaimeh also shared the sentiment that imported oil which was “accumulated in large quantities,” led to financial losses that negatively impacted farmers. He also discussed the necessity of increased supervision of olive oil sellers to ensure that the quality of the oil and the prices are regulated.  

The vice president of the General Syndicate of Olive Oil Press Owners and Producers, Tayseer Al-Najdawi, told Jordan News: “The current season is not bad, especially in the western, central and northern regions of Jordan, but the southern and eastern regions are less productive. The season is generally good but less than the previous season.”

He added that olive fruit production for this year is anticipated to be around 22–24 thousand tonnes and that there will be a surplus of 2,000 tonnes. “This indicates that local production is able to meet the needs of citizens completely and dispense with imports,” he said.

In terms of the minister’s decision to stop imports, Najdawi said: “This decision is not new, and it aims to protect the local product. However, during the past two years, there have been some imbalances and abuses.”

Najdawi shared that they do not expect as heavy stockpiling this season as last year. “Last year, there was an increased demand for imported olive oil because the oil was presumed to be Palestinian, and Palestinian oil is good, and it was sold at a lower price. However, it turned out that the oil was not Palestinian,” he said.

 “We do not expect this to happen this year after the Ministry of Agriculture tightened its control over imports,” he said.

 He also advised people to buy olive oil directly from the press to ensure the production quality and ensure that no tampering with the oil occurred. “Olive presses are the safest place to buy olive oil from,” Najdawi concluded.

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