(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Jordan is the world's eighth largest producer of olive oil, with 17 million olive trees generating around 20 to 24 tonnes of oil every year, according to sector representatives.
Jordan produces "excellent quality" olive oil, but more needs to be done to promote the product worldwide, they said at the opening of the third Olive Oil Exhibition on Saturday, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Jordan Olive Products Exporters Association (JOPEA).
JOPEA Director Obada Kayyali said the exhibition seeks to acquaint visitors with the "high quality" olive oil produced in the Kingdom.
"The event targets Jordanian consumers and its timing is excellent since so many Arabs from the Gulf states are also visiting the country," he said.
Kayyali added that the association, in cooperation with olive producers and press owners, works to promote Jordanian olive oil through organising exhibitions inside and outside the Kingdom and creates online marketing campaigns.
"In April or May next year, we will organise a large exhibition displaying Jordanian olive oil to which several international companies and big traders are invited," Kayyali told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.
He noted that olive trees cover around 75 per cent of agricultural land in the Kingdom, explaining that investment in the country's olive oil industry is estimated at approximately JD1 billion.
Kayyali pointed out that the agriculture ministry started implementing a French government-funded project to label locally produced olive oil according to the region of production, but it was suspended shortly afterwards because of the Cabinet reshuffle.
"The price of Jordanian olive oil is relatively high compared with other countries because of the high cost of water bills," he said, adding: "Despite inadequate marketing campaigns and high prices, Jordanian traders managed to export the product to Britain, Russia and Japan."
JOPEA Secretary General Musa Saket noted that the "high nutritional quality of locally produced olive oil is recognised worldwide".
In a telephone interview with The Jordan Times yesterday, he said the Kingdom olive production amounted to 150,000 tonnes last year that yielded around 24,000 tonnes of olive oil.
He also said Jordan's annual olive oil consumption ranges between 20,000"22,000 tonnes, with 3.5 to 4 kilogrammes per capita.
According to a Department of Statistics report issued earlier this year, Irbid Governorate witnessed the highest olive oil production in 2010 with 8,348 tonnes, while the lowest was registered in Tafileh Governorate with 36 tonnes, a 66 per cent decline compared to the previous year, when it produced 105 tonnes.
During the four-day exhibition, 35 companies, olive presses, and cooperative societies are displaying various products.