The government will soon establish a higher council to regulate the Kingdom’s olive oil sector and maintain the growing international reputation of its products, a senior official said on Sunday.
Ministry of Agriculture Secretary General Radi Tarawneh told The Jordan Times in a telephone interview that the ministry is finalising the makeup of the council in cooperation with the concerned agencies, adding that, once established, "the council will work on enhancing the olive oil industry in the Kingdom and promoting the produce worldwide".
Tarawneh explained that the council, which will include highly specialised experts, will monitor every aspect of the olive oil industry from production to quality assurance and marketing.
"The council will mainly focus on enhancing investment in the olive oil industry and enabling local producers to penetrate new international markets," he said.
The establishment of such a council has been a longstanding demand of stakeholders in the industry.
In previous remarks to The Jordan Times, Jordan Farmers Union Director General Mahmoud Ouran said a higher council for olive oil would contribute immensely to addressing "irregularities in the sector", adding that the major problem facing the sector is the yearly surplus in olive production, which is exacerbated by the government's choice to allow imports of olive oil into the country.
Oran said the government should maintain a year-round ban on olive oil imports, not just ahead of the harvest season, in order to help farmers sell their "high-quality" produce in the local market at reasonable prices.
In a statement posted on the Jordan Agriculture Engineers Association website, its president, Abdul Hadi Falahat, also stressed the need to establish a higher council for olive oil "to address the deterioration and irregularities in the sector".
He said the government has been paying "little attention" to the sector and that Jordanian olive oil is "known worldwide for its excellent quality".
Falahat noted that the council will work on crafting marketing policies for Jordanian olive oil and regulate the "state of chaos that has long prevailed in the sector".
Jordan is the world’s eighth largest producer of olive oil, with 17 million olive trees generating around 20,000 to 24,000 tonnes of oil each year, according to sector representatives.
Last year, the Kingdom produced 150,000 tonnes of olives, yielding around 24,000 tonnes of olive oil.