The provincial government of La Rioja in Argentina have implemented a program this week which will provide each family in the region with their own olive tree plant.

It is hoped that the program will provide residents with olives for home consumption and give them the opportunity to produce olive oil in the future, all part of an overall plan to increase domestic consumption of the product. The program has been greeted with enthusiasm, particularly in households where such a plant may open up a new source of income, in addition to food supply.

The first plants were delivered in the town of Anguinán last week and to Malligasta, Sañogasta and Nonogasta at the start of this week, with a total of around 4,000 plants of the Coratina variety to be delivered in total at no cost to the beneficiaries. This particular variety of olive is particularly suitable for the program as it can be cultivated for consumption as well as used for oil production.

Plant Health Director for the area, Mr. Roberto Turra stressed the importance of the program, known as Un olivo en casa or “An olive tree in the home,” stating that it would be important for small producers, but also for traditional families, and was designed not only for afforestation but to encourage olive cultivation and consumption.

The region of La Rioja has an ongoing intensive program involving the introduction and delivery of various different production plants, as well as provincial programs hoped to generate profit from small and medium level production. It is hoped that programs such as the olive tree in the home will help increase quality and quantity of production in the region and become an important economic channel.

Argentina has a rich history of olive oil production, and declared olive oil as a national food in 2012. However, although the country is a key producer of olives and their oils, with an export industry valued at over $30 million US in 2011, domestic consumption is weak. The average Argentine consumes only about 125 grams per year, a figure many would like to see improved with campaigns designed to increase consumption and improve the internal market of the product.

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