Olive oil production from this year’s harvest season is expected to increase by 50 per cent with prices per kilogramme ranging between JD3 and JD3.5, according to agriculture officials.
Minister of Agriculture Saeed Masri told The Jordan Times on Sunday that according to a ministry study, olive production this season, which starts next month and runs through December, is expected to rise by 30 per cent to reach 179,000 tonnes compared to 125,000 tonnes last year.
Olive production peaks every other year in a phenomenon known as “alternate bearing habit”.
Meanwhile, Jamal Batsh, director of the ministry’s olive unit, said this year’s olive oil production is estimated at around 28,000 tonnes, while the Kingdom’s consumption stands around 24,000 tonnes.
“The average annual individual consumption of oil is stands at four kilogrammes, which means there will be around 3,600 tonnes in abundance,” he noted.
However, the average consumption per capita in Jordan is below international standards, which stand at around 10 kilogrammes, according to the Jordan Olive Products Exporters Association.
Association director Musa Saket told The Jordan Times that between 8,000 to 9,000 tonnes of olives from irrigated orchards are exported every year, particularly to Israel, noting that the Agriculture Ministry has pledged to discontinue exports to Israel by next year.
Masri said large quantities of olives are exported to Saudi Arabia, noting that Jordan exports green olives for pickling purposes as they are not feasible for pressing.
“For certain types, oil extraction is very low and does not exceed 10 per cent. Selling these olives is more profitable for farmers than pressing,” the minister said.
According to Batsh, farmers have signed contracts to sell olives from irrigated orchards at 600 fils per kilo, which, he said, is more profitable for them, because such types contain low quantities of oil.
Around 10,000 tonnes of olives are expected to be exported this year, representing 5.6 per cent of the total production, he added.
Masri said the ministry has not yet decided whether it will allow olive oil imports from other countries, saying any decision will take the interests of farmers into consideration.
Last year, the government lifted a ban on the import of olives and olive oil, attributing the decision to what it called a “lack of commitment” from local oil producers to a previous pledge not to raise prices, which exceeded JD75 per 16-litre container.