`Olive Oil Brand in Jordan Harnesses the Value in History - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Brand in Jordan Harnesses the Value in History

By Paolo DeAndreis
Feb. 15, 2023 10:07 UTC

The unique genetic her­itage of Jordan’s ancient olive trees is the key to a new effort to add value to locally-pro­duced olive oil.

With the sup­port of inter­na­tional part­ners, Jordan’s pro­duc­ers and exporters asso­ci­a­tion has launched a new extra vir­gin olive oil, Ateek, pro­duced from the Mehras cul­ti­var, con­sid­ered among the old­est in the Mediterranean basin.

See Also:Jordan’s Olive Oil Yield Lower than Expected

This event show­cases the rich his­tory of the Mehras olive trees in our coun­try and how it posi­tions Jordan as a leader in the global olive oil indus­try,” said Ruba Daghmish, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the asso­ci­a­tion.

A 2020 study con­ducted by researchers in Jordan and pub­lished in the Mitochondrial DNA jour­nal con­firmed the ancient her­itage of the Mehras tree.

Keep in mind that the ear­li­est human set­tle­ments that have grown olives were in Jordan,” Monther Sadder, co-author of the study and pro­fes­sor of plant biotech­nol­ogy at the University of Jordan, told Olive Oil Times in a 2020 inter­view.

The genet­ics of the Mehras trees demon­strate its role in olive tree his­tory and rep­re­sents a con­tin­u­a­tion of those early set­tle­ments activ­i­ties in grow­ing olives,” he added.

The study was the first in a series of inves­ti­ga­tions launched by the National Agricultural Research Center.

Olive oil pro­duc­tion in Jordan

Olive oil pro­duc­tion in Jordan is a sig­nif­i­cant aspect of the coun­try’s agri­cul­ture indus­try. The coun­try has a long his­tory of olive cul­ti­va­tion, with some trees in the coun­try believed to be over 2,000 years old. Olive groves can be found in var­i­ous regions of Jordan, with the major­ity located in the north­ern and cen­tral parts of the coun­try. In recent years, the Jordanian gov­ern­ment has made efforts to mod­ern­ize the olive oil pro­duc­tion indus­try, invest­ing in new tech­nolo­gies and pro­vid­ing sup­port for local farm­ers.

During the Ateek pre­sen­ta­tion, Jordan’s Minister of Agriculture, Khaled Alhinifat, said sci­en­tists from the research cen­ter have stud­ied the genetic code of these ancient trees and dis­cov­ered that they are closely related to olive vari­eties grown in other pro­duc­tion coun­tries, sug­gest­ing that Jordan is most likely the ori­gin of these olives.”


Mercy Corps Jordan

The name of the ancient cul­ti­var is strictly linked to its his­tory. Mehras is the name char­ac­ter­iz­ing large ancient trees, whose trunk can be sur­rounded by the arms of three men,” said Nizar Haddad, the research center’s direc­tor gen­eral.

As the inves­ti­gated geno­type belongs to a large olive tree, which is around 1,000 years old, the local name Mehras was coined,” he added.

Haddad also noted how the research on the olive geno­type is part of a broader effort to map the genetic roots of plants and ani­mals in the region.

Ateek has been pre­sented as a fruity extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duced fol­low­ing agri­cul­tural best prac­tices.

See Also:Award-Winning Producer Emphasizes Sustainable Expansion in the Jordan Desert

According to Salam Ayoub, the direc­tor of hor­ti­cul­tural research at the National Agricultural Research Center, Mehras trees are char­ac­ter­ized by a 30 per­cent oil con­tent in their fruits, among the high­est in the world.

The project was sup­ported by the Netherlands and the inter­na­tional relief and sup­port orga­ni­za­tion Mercy Corps with its HortiFuture Project, which is also active in pro­tect­ing and main­tain­ing ancient trees.

This olive oil is a del­i­cacy oil. The beauty of this prod­uct is to give pride to these trees and the farm­ers who inher­ited them, and now they have a bet­ter value for their pro­duce,” said Tala Momani, senior agri­cul­ture and value chain advi­sor of Mercy Corps.


Event on Sunday, January 29, 2023 unveiling the olive oil Ateek (Mercy Corps Jordan)

At the launch cer­e­mony, the Dutch ambas­sador Harry Verweij spoke about the rel­e­vance of the sym­bol­ism and his­tory of the olive tree in Jordan and its high-qual­ity oil” and how a great prod­uct should be accom­pa­nied by a great nar­ra­tive and a com­pelling story, to attract con­sumers both in Jordan and abroad.”

Apart from the peren­nial olive oil from the ancient Mehras trees, the research coun­cil and min­istry are also work­ing on fur­ther dis­sem­i­nat­ing the Mehras cul­ti­var among olive grow­ers in the region.

The most promi­nent areas for Mehras cul­ti­va­tion are in the rain­fall-depen­dent north­ern high­lands, where the vari­ety was first iden­ti­fied.


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