Bringing to fruition an initiative that began in La Rioja province last month, Argentina’s National Chamber of Deputies has approved a bill to make olive oil a ‘national food.’ The initiative aims to promote the production, marketing and domestic consumption of olive oil products through the creation of the Federal Program for the Promotion of Argentine Olive Oil, according to ANDigital.

“[The initiative] aims to strengthen the regional economies of our country. One goal is to diversify marketing of a product with such high social and commercial appreciation and to thereby expand consumption in the local market,” said Javier Tineo, the La Rioja deputy who authored the bill.

“We believe that our public policies should promote both primary production, with olives that are fully harvested on Argentine soil, and industrialization in the country,” Tineo added.

The new Federal Program aims to increase domestic consumption, which is currently just 125 grams (4.4 ounces) per capita annually, according to El Sol.

Nonetheless, Argentina is the largest producer of olives in the Americas, with a harvest of 200,000 tonnes reported in 2011. The country places fourth on the list of the world’s top producers, just behind the European Union, Turkey and Egypt, and contributes 6.4 percent of the total global production.

Following the bill’s approval, Tineo appeared before members of the local community in Aimogasta in the La Rioja county of Arauco.

Javier Tineo

“We are very pleased. We did this with La Rioja in mind, its producers and the need to incorporate a product a product of the highest social appreciation in the basic food basket of Argentines,” Tineo said.

“In our country, out of every four liters of oil, Argentines consume just one. The rest is sold abroad. In contrast, other countries must import oil because they consume more than they produce. We are the largest producer of olives in Latin America and the last in the consumption scale,” he added.

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