`Growing Olive Oil Production in the Balkans - Olive Oil Times

Growing Olive Oil Production in the Balkans

Mar. 3, 2016
Wendy Logan

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Herzegovina may seem an unusual region for olive and olive oil pro­duc­tion. Over the last five years, how­ever, the Balkan coun­try has jumped into the field and have begun to con­sider more seri­ously the pos­si­ble eco­nomic impact of cul­ti­vat­ing a crop that has been a sta­ple of neigh­bor­ing Greece and the Mediterranean for cen­turies.

In 2011, Balkan Insight reported on a com­pany, KM, in Macedonia, that was to be the country’s first to pio­neer pro­duc­tion of olive oil. With a plan­ta­tion of 13,000 olive trees located close to the small town of Dojran near the Greek bor­der, KM set a goal of 300 tons of olive oil pro­duced for both exports and the local mar­ket.

In coop­er­a­tion with both mem­bers of Skopje’s Faculty of Agriculture and Greek pro­fes­sors from Thessaloniki University, the com­pany also set out to develop a new cul­ti­var, Marsela,” that would be bet­ter suited to grow­ing con­di­tions and the cli­mate of Macedonia.

KM’s plans were just the begin­ning. Today, Balkan News pub­lished a story about the munic­i­pal­ity of Stolac’s olive grow­ers, mem­bers of the Association of Herzegovina Fruits of Mediterranean, who received a brand new, mini oil refin­ery to be shared among the grow­ers of the area.

The oil pro­cess­ing device was pro­vided through the efforts of a pilot project designed to improve qual­ity and assist in the over­all growth of the bud­ding oil indus­try there. Previous efforts required pricey trans­port to large, com­mu­nal refiner­ies and often, qual­ity was com­pro­mised.

With the oppor­tu­nity pro­vided by the new tech­nol­ogy, grow­ers hope to attract investors and fur­ther the growth of the indus­try as a whole.

Still, olive oil from The Balkans might appear to be a long way from show­ing up on U.S. mar­ket shelves. Or maybe not.

Last month, An Olive Oil’s Unlikely Journey From the Balkans” was a fea­tured story in the East Hampton (New York) Star. Through the efforts of New York-based attor­ney Andrew Strong who found him­self involved in a legal bat­tle designed to defend Kosovo’s for­mer prime min­is­ter Ramush Haradinaj, oils pro­duced in the region bor­der­ing Albania have now found their way to shops in east­ern Long Island.

In Mark Segal’s arti­cle, Strong dis­cusses his time trav­el­ing around the area. There were moun­tains cov­ered in olive trees div­ing down into the Mediterranean. And the tra­di­tion of press­ing olives by hand had remained unchanged for more than 2,000 years…The area has hun­dreds of olive farm­ers, some with only two or three trees.”

These farm­ers are part­ner­ing with Strong to bring their organic Kalinjot olive oil to stores as promi­nent as Zabars in Manhattan.

Strong is keep­ing the scale of his oper­a­tion small, with every­thing bot­tled by hand. Maintaining small batches ensures qual­ity,” he said.

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