Africa / Middle East
The production of olive oil in Syria is expected to hit an all- time high of 200,000 tons, with a bumper olive crop this year. Even as the Syrian economy at large continues to suffer due to months of political unrest, olive picking has not faced any significant impact. The harvest began a few weeks ago along the Mediterranean coast and will continue until the end of season in February.
The Syrian Ministry of Agriculture has issued a statement announcing that favorable weather conditions are helping the olive harvest this season. The ministry forecasts a production of 175,000 tons of olive oil this year. However, the International Olive Council (IOC), a trade organization in Spain, has estimated that the production in Syria will touch 200,000 tons this year.
Olive oil is the main staple for Syrian people, who are among the top consumers in the world. The average annual consumption of olive oil per person in Syria is approximately five liters.
Olive is a key part of Syrian agriculture, with a share of about eight percent of the total agricultural output. More than a 100,000 peasant families are directly dependent on olive cultivation, which provides about 13 million workdays a year for just picking olives, even though the harvest season lasts for only a part of the year.
The total olive oil exports from Syria stood at 25,000 tons last year. Omar Adi, an olive oil producer in Syria said, “Syrian farmers lack high-quality production techniques, which the government needs to address. The Syrian olive oil is good, but in the international market, you need a high, stable quality.” Beset with domestic political challenges and lack of advanced agriculture, Syria still continues to hold its own as one of the top five olive oil producers in the world.