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7-week campaign launched to promote Jordan’s olive oil, culinary tourism

By Raed Omari - Oct 10,2021 - Last updated at Oct 10,2021

A farmer picks olives in Ajloun, 70km northwest of Amman, in this file photo (Photo by Victoria Silva Sánchez)

AMMAN — With the aim of promoting Jordanian olive products and sustainable culinary tourism, a campaign has been launched recently to connect olive farmers to the tourism sector. 

Launched under the umbrella of “From Farm to Fork in Jordan” project, “In Celebration of Olive Oil” was launched during a press conference on Thursday in the presence of Agriculture Minister Khalid Hneifat.

 According to the organisers, the campaign, which started on October 7 and ends on 26 November on World Olive Tree Day, aims at promoting Jordanian olive oil and culinary tourism. 

During the seven-week culinary campaign, guests, visitors and food lovers are able to experience the season by joining seven olive farm tours in seven governorates across the Kingdom, special tastings of premium extra virgin olive oil and bespoke dinner events at participating hotels and restaurants, organizers said.

“In Celebration of Olive Oil” aims to establish culinary tourism in Jordan, said Fayyad Zyoud, chairman of the Jordanian Association of Exporters of Olive Products (JOPEA), including agrotourism. It offers tourists the chance to participate in an olive harvest by picking olives and pressing them. 

Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Jordan, Marc Hasselaar, underlined his country's support for Jordan's agriculture sector. Hasselaar said that the Dutch government extends technical assistance to farmers and helps them expand their projects and increase their gains. 

Talal Al Fayez, from FAO in Jordan, highlighted the organisation's efforts to achieve food security in Jordan and the world in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

‘From Farm to Fork’

"In Celebration of Olive Oil" is part of the umbrella project "From Farm to Fork in Jordan" that aims to promote sustainable culinary tourism in the Kingdom, according to its founder, Nico Dingemans. "From Farm to Fork in Jordan” is supported by a network of more than 50 stakeholders and participants from the agricultural, tourism, hospitality, food and beverage sectors, Dingemans said.

"During the seven-week culinary campaign, guests, visitors and food lovers will be able to experience the season by joining seven olive farm tours in seven governorates, and attending special tastings of premium extra virgin olive oil and bespoke dinner events at participating hotels and restaurants," Dingemans added. 

He told The Jordan Times that "to put culinary tourism on the global map, you need to connect sustainable agriculture to sustainable tourism". 

“Promoting culinary tourism in Jordan in a sustainable manner requires more local and healthy products to be served in hotels and restaurants across the country. A good way to start is by celebrating seasonal hero-products with farmers, chefs, local guests and international visitors. That is what In Celebration of Olive Oil is about,” Dingemans said.

Olive festival

Hneifat said that this year's National Olive Festival will be "different" in terms of the number of producers attending, expecting the annual event to market around 25 per cent of the locally produced olive oil. 

Hneifat said that the 2021 National Olive Festival will run for 10 days and will be held in a "large" exhibition ground spanning 11,000 metres or 11 dunums. The 2019 festival covered 4.5 dunums at Al Hussein Public Parks in Amman. 

The minister also said that the olive oil showcased at this year's exhibition will be examined prior to the event and products will be classified as virgin and extra-virgin olive oil. "Despite the climate change factors and Jordan's severe water scarcity, Jordanian farmers have proved resilience, resourcefulness and relentlessness," the minister said.

Olive trees cover 72 per cent of the agricultural land in Jordan, according to a recent Department of Statistics (DoS) statement. Approximately 10.5 million olive trees are planted in over 560,000 dunums, most of which are located in the northern region of the Kingdom, the DoS said, noting that Jordan also ranked 8th internationally in producing olive oil. 

According to the DoS, the sector’s investment volume amounted to 1JD billion in 2018 and it has created job opportunities for more than 80,000 Jordanian families. 

The Kingdom’s production of olives for the last five years was estimated at 150 million tonnes, 20 per cent of which was pickled and 80 per cent was sent to olive oil mills. There are 132 olive oil extraction plants in Jordan, including 281 production lines, which are equipped with modern technology. 

The production capacity of these plants is estimated at 436 tonnes per hour.

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