`Catamarca Unveils New Research Facility for Olive Oil Production - Olive Oil Times

Catamarca Unveils New Research Facility for Olive Oil Production

Apr. 3, 2011
Tom Baker

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A research facil­ity to improve tech­no­log­i­cal and agri­cul­tu­rual meth­ods of olive oil pro­duc­tion was inau­gu­rated in the Argentinian province of Catamarca this week.

The facil­ity is part of a project spear­headed by the National University of Catamarca (UNCA), with fund­ing and direc­tion com­ing from both the Common Fund for Commodities and the Canadian Berci International group of experts in agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment. The pro­gram will give a boost to regional farm­ers, offer­ing them train­ing in the lat­est meth­ods of pro­duc­tion, bot­tling and mar­ket­ing tech­niques. It is hoped that the move will empower small and medium sized pro­duc­ers in the region, par­tic­u­larly those who did not ben­e­fit from tax breaks intro­duced by the Kirchner gov­ern­ment in recent months.

These are tough times for olive oil pro­duc­ers in Catamarca who are con­fronting chal­lenges led by the world drop in prices and stiff com­pe­ti­tion result­ing in an increas­ing num­ber of lay­offs and even a state of emer­gency within the province’s Pomán depart­ment.

The new project is a con­certed effort to help local farm­ers and pro­duc­ers make qual­ity olive oil at more com­pet­i­tive rates. This point was echoed by Catamarca’s Minister of Production and Development Juan José Bellón, who said the ini­tia­tive will help dis­tin­guish Catamarca as a region capa­ble of pro­duc­ing the high­est qual­ity olive oil.

He went on to say that the project devel­op­ment was being achieved in the midst of a cri­sis fac­ing the sec­tor “…even though there are no mea­sures from the national gov­ern­ment to reverse the sit­u­a­tion.”

The project will apply exper­tise from insti­tu­tions includ­ing the Common Fund for Commodities, an orga­ni­za­tion that works closely with International Commodity Bodies (ICBs) to advance com­mod­ity sec­tor devel­op­ment in mem­ber coun­tries and pol­icy advo­cacy. Berci International will offer experts in global devel­op­ment projects includ­ing agron­o­mists, sci­en­tists, agri­cul­tural econ­o­mists, and project man­agers knowl­edge­able in cre­at­ing high qual­ity prod­ucts and in improv­ing mar­ket access.

In a recent talk given at the University of Catamarca, uni­ver­sity pres­i­dent and project leader Favio Fama said the project will ben­e­fit more than just the farm­ers:

First of all small and medium pro­duc­ers, who gain access to train­ing and tech­ni­cal assis­tance in the field and at the pilot plant with the aim of improv­ing the qual­ity of their prod­ucts. Second, the UNCA will ben­e­fit from the acqui­si­tion of tech­nol­ogy, expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge of inter­na­tional researchers. And thirdly, the provin­cial gov­ern­ments, since there will be a focal point for the pro­duc­tion of qual­ity olive oil.”

The open­ing of the new train­ing and demon­stra­tion facil­ity is said to be just the first phase of the project in which the University of Catamarca is reported to have invested $1.5 mil­lion.

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