Picky Customers Welcome the Start of Jordan's Olive Oil Season

Picky Customers Welcome the Start of Jordan’s Olive Oil Season

Syrian refugee employees choose olives on the plains of northeast Jordan and cargo them onto vans that transport the harvest to Israel, the place it’s pressed for oil.

“It makes more cash there,” stated a Jordanian supervisor of a farm of 16,000 bushes within the area of Umm Jimal, a number of kilometers from the ruins of a Roman metropolis in-built basalt close to the border with Syria.

Many bushes within the area are irrigated from unlawful water wells as much as 500 meters deep, which requires a big capability of electrical energy era to function, which will increase manufacturing prices because the demand for olives d ‘Israel fuels trade.


However Jordan’s most prized olive oil doesn’t come from Umm Jimal. This distinction belongs to the bael, or rainfed olive groves close to the cities of Jerash and Irbid within the northwest. The soil in these areas additionally tends to be redder.

The revenue per individual per 12 months is $4,100 in Jordan and the nation of 10 million individuals is parched.

Nevertheless, many households are choosy in terms of olive oil, preferring to purchase it in 20-litre containers from household farms – whose homeowners they’ve recognized for generations – quite than from the grocery store.

The olive groves and forest in the village of Dibbeen, about 50 kilometers northwest of Amman.  Khaled Yacoub Oweis / Le National

An inflow of expatriate cash within the Nineteen Nineties prompted land purchases in spendthrift areas and lots of rich individuals planted their newly acquired property with olive bushes.

Youssef Al Zubi, a farmer from the village of Ketteh close to Jerash, manages round 400 olive bushes on behalf of landowners within the close by city of Dibbeen, one of many few areas in Jordan with pure forest cowl. The realm was a haven for Yasser Arafat and the remainder of the Palestinian command through the 1970 Jordanian civil warfare.

Final week, Youssef began choosing the olive bushes adjoining the forest, primarily hiring his prolonged household. He took the harvest to 2 presses in Jerash Governorate. One has Italian machines, the opposite German.

The Italian press processes the olives at 35°C and the oil seems a cloudy inexperienced and fragrant.

The German press operates at 15°C and the inexperienced oil that comes out of it’s purer and has a stronger style, though it takes 8% extra olives to provide the identical quantity, partly as a result of the fruit had been pressed at a decrease temperature.

Three samples of Dibbeen olive oil: on the left, last year, in the middle, this year's harvest pressed at 35 degrees Celsius using Italian machinery, and on the right also this year's harvest, pressed at 15 degrees Celsius using German machines.  Khaled Yacoub Oweis / Le National

“The standard of the press issues,” says Youssef, predicting that German pressed oil will retain its style and colour longer.

Youssef additionally had oil from final 12 months. It had turned yellow however nonetheless had a particular aroma.

The olives are souri baladi (domestically grown levantines), versus the nabali selection grown in Mafraq and different industrial-scale farms in Jordan.

The baladi selection is extra delicate to temperature and local weather. Unseasonable rains in April broken the harvest and 20 liters of souri baladi oil are promoting for $140 this 12 months, in comparison with $100 final 12 months.

In 2020, costs have dropped to $70 for 20 litres, partly as a result of the rain got here on the proper time and was ample, resulting in a rise in provide.

“Provide is tight this 12 months and the whole lot we harvest sells instantly after being pressed,” Youssef says, referring to the baladi selection in Dibbeen.

Syrian refugee seasonal workers pick olives near Umm Jimal, northeast Jordan.  Khaled Yacoub Oweis / Le National

The Ministry of Agriculture expects Jordan’s total olive oil manufacturing to extend by 20% this 12 months to twenty-eight,000 tons. Many of the manufacturing will likely be consumed domestically as exports stay very low.

However a container of Dibbeen olive oil traveled by service taxi to Beirut by way of Syria this week, destined for an skilled Lebanese engineer launched to the oil on a private go to to Jordan two months in the past.

“One thing tends to go mistaken with Lebanese olive oil,” says the engineer.

Jordanian manufacturing remains to be solely a fraction of main olive oil producing international locations, resembling Tunisia, Italy and Greece, and even the 165,000 tons produced in Syria in 2010, the final 12 months earlier than the revolt in opposition to 5 a long time of Assad household rule.

Mustafa Walid, a Syrian support employee from Idlib, a area in northern Syria well-known for its olive oil, tasted this 12 months’s Dibbeen manufacturing and stated it was “90% pretty much as good as Idlib oil”.

“Ours has a bit extra physique and is a little more pointed,” Mustafa says. “However Dibbeen’s olive oil is basically good.”

Up to date: October 27, 2022, 11:00 p.m.

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