Egypt Has Ambitious Plans to Become the World's Largest Table Olive Producer

Ahead of taking the chair position for the 2019 IOC Council of Members meeting, Egypt's Agriculture Minister pledges more cooperation and investment in the country's already substantial olive sector.

Dec. 20, 2018
By Daniel Dawson

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Egypt plans to be the world’s top table olive pro­ducer by the end of the next decade, accord­ing to the coun­try’s Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation.

Egypt has a plan to increase the pro­duc­tion and cul­ti­va­tion of olives in desert lands.- Ezz el-Din Abu Steit, Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation

Ezz el-Din Abu Steit made that state­ment in Madrid last month after com­plet­ing bilat­eral meet­ings with his Spanish coun­ter­part, Luis Planas on the side­lines of the International Olive Council’s (IOC) annual meet­ing.

The two report­edly dis­cussed increas­ing coop­er­a­tion between Spain and Egypt in olive cul­ti­va­tion, as well as on other agri­cul­tural projects.

Egypt is cur­rently the world’s sec­ond largest pro­ducer of table olives after Spain. According to the most recent fig­ures made avail­able by the IOC, Egypt pro­duced 450,000 tons of table olives in the 2018/19 crop year. Spain pro­duced a world-record 613,000 tons.

While this was a record year for Spain, Egypt’s table olive yield dropped by about 100,000 tons, from their record high 2016/17 yield.


However, Egypt’s table olive pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues to trend upward. The aver­age of the past three har­vests, 500,000 tons, is higher than any pre­vi­ous year and this trend is likely to con­tinue.

Abu Steit said that Egypt plans to plant about 100 mil­lion new olive trees by 2020 in a bid to meet this goal. He has invited Planas to come and tour the country’s olive groves as well, hop­ing to excite the Spanish agri­cul­tural min­is­ter about the poten­tial for invest­ment.

Abu Steit invited Planas to visit Egypt and get acquainted with its poten­tials to pro­mote the cul­ti­va­tion of olives,” a state­ment on the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation’s offi­cial web­site said.

For his part, the Spanish min­is­ter wel­comed the invi­ta­tion and called for out­lin­ing a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing to boost coop­er­a­tion in the agri­cul­tural field.”

There has been no pub­lic men­tion about what might be agreed to in the mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing.

While in Madrid, Abu Steit also met with Tunisia’s Agriculture Minister, Samir Taieb, in order to dis­cuss increas­ing coop­er­a­tion between the two coun­tries. During the 2018/19 crop year Tunisia pro­duced 25,000 tons of table olives.

Abu Steit probed with [Taieb] means of fos­ter­ing coop­er­a­tion between the two coun­tries’ pri­vate sec­tors in olive oil pro­duc­tion, in addi­tion to exchang­ing expe­ri­ence in the research area,” the state­ment said.

Some of the research that two coun­tries will likely share is how to deal with the increas­ing strains caused by cli­mate change. According to pre­dic­tive mod­els from cli­mate sci­en­tists, North Africa will con­tinue to become hot­ter and drier over time, espe­cially if the Earth’s car­bon emis­sions are not cur­tailed in time.

The region’s deser­ti­fi­ca­tion will also likely be a topic of con­ver­sa­tion in April when Egypt hosts the next meet­ing of the IOC. The Egyptian gov­ern­ment has already begun invest­ing in new irri­ga­tion sys­tems for olive groves that are being planted in the country’s west­ern desert.

Egypt has a plan to increase the pro­duc­tion and cul­ti­va­tion of olives in desert lands,” Abu Steit said before leav­ing Madrid.

The hope is that by grow­ing olive trees here, the Egyptian gov­ern­ment can stop the spread of deser­ti­fi­ca­tion in the Nile River Delta.


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