Five-Year Project Delivers Infrastructure and Training for Algerian Olive Farmers

The PASA program planted training groves, researched local cultivars and delivered an olive oil laboratory in five years.
Algeria's mountainous terrain means many of the country's olive groves are fragmented across wide areas.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Feb. 15, 2024 22:06 UTC

The PASA Program to develop a mod­ern and sus­tain­able olive farm­ing and olive oil pro­duc­tion sec­tor in Algeria has con­cluded.

According to Paul Lompech, the program’s head of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, PASA estab­lished a net­work of resources, pro­vid­ing small farm­ers and millers access to the lat­est knowl­edge and best prac­tices for grow­ing and milling olives over the past five years.

We have big hopes in the next five or ten years for the new indus­try to grow stronger… I think (Algeria) is posi­tioned to become a sig­nif­i­cant player on the inter­na­tional olive oil mar­ket, with its own brand and qual­ity pro­duc­tion.- Paul Lompech, head of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, PASA Program

The European Union-backed project, which received fund­ing from French and German enti­ties, also estab­lished a sec­tor-spe­cific lab­o­ra­tory, pub­lished research on endemic Algerian olive vari­eties and pre­pared mar­ket research to aid farm­ers and millers in devel­op­ing brands.

The PASA Program has sig­nif­i­cantly con­tributed to lay­ing the foun­da­tions for a sub­stan­tial devel­op­ment of the olive sec­tor,” Lompech told Olive Oil Times.

He high­lighted the estab­lish­ment of Algeria’s first olive oil-spe­cific accred­ited lab­o­ra­tory, run by the Technical Institute of Arboriculture, Fruit and Vines (ITAFV), as a water­shed moment for the project and the olive sec­tor.

See Also:Tunisia Has a Plan to Boost Its Olive Oil Industry

Talks are ongo­ing with the International Olive Council, as this lab­o­ra­tory is soon des­tined to be offi­cially rec­og­nized by the IOC,” Lompech said.

It is a big step for us,” he added. For instance, pro­duc­ers now have a reli­able place in Algeria for olive oil analy­sis. So they will no longer need to send sam­ples abroad, such as to France, as they did before.”

The lab­o­ra­tory also hosts ded­i­cated train­ing ses­sions about olive oil analy­sis. On top of that, a net­work of six demon­stra­tive pilot sites was estab­lished, two for each of the three provinces involved,” Lompech said.

These groves allow all inter­ested par­ties to directly observe good agri­cul­tural prac­tices in the field, such as prun­ing tech­niques, irri­ga­tion or other improve­ments to boost the health and pro­duc­tiv­ity of their groves,” he explained.

At the instruc­tional sites, trained experts offer step-by-step guides to grow­ers inter­ested in adopt­ing a new approach to farm­ing and olive milling, includ­ing sus­tain­abil­ity and envi­ron­men­tal aspects.

While olive grow­ing is in the DNA of most fam­i­lies resid­ing in the north of the coun­try, a mod­ern sci­en­tific approach was needed for the sec­tor to develop fur­ther.

A bet­ter and broader knowl­edge about the local olive her­itage is key to the sec­tor’s future,” Lompech said.

ITAFV, with direct sup­port from PASA, has also pub­lished the offi­cial cat­a­log of the 36 Algerian olive cul­ti­vars that have been rec­og­nized and reg­is­tered. Nineteen more are in the process of being reg­is­tered.

The insti­tute listed agri­cul­tural and com­mer­cial char­ac­ter­is­tics for each cul­ti­var, includ­ing all mor­pho­log­i­cal, phe­no­log­i­cal, mol­e­c­u­lar and organolep­tic traits.

This goes along with sev­eral research ini­tia­tives con­ducted by PASA, from con­sumer stud­ies to water and envi­ron­men­tal research, mar­ket­ing and pack­ag­ing on the Algerian mar­ket,” Lompech said.

We focused on research to pro­vide a basic bib­li­o­graphic base for peo­ple to under­stand the olive ecosys­tem as a whole,” he added.


Other research was directed towards improv­ing the capac­ity of olive oil mills and agri­cul­tural prac­tices such as irri­ga­tion and prun­ing.

Dozens of books and other infor­ma­tive mate­ri­als were pub­lished, list­ing all the most rel­e­vant aspects of olive grow­ing, from sus­tain­able prac­tices to the health ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil.

As part of the buildup of such knowl­edge, PASA pro­duced an advi­sory sup­port sys­tem aimed at farm­ers and other inter­ested par­ties. As of today, we have 60 olive expert advi­sors in the field trained by the PASA advi­sory sup­port sys­tem,” Lompech said.

These are pro­fes­sion­als who can spread the cul­ture of qual­ity pro­duc­tion along with the knowl­edge needed to achieve such qual­ity,” he added. They can also train oth­ers, fur­ther spread­ing a new mod­ern approach.”

The pro­gram focused on Béjaïa, Bouïra, and Tizi Ouzou, the three wilayas (provinces) of the Soummam Valley, where the ear­li­est evi­dence of olive grow­ing dates back more than two mil­len­nia.

As a whole, in 2023, they orga­nized more than 400 train­ing events in the area involv­ing more than 3,000 peo­ple, and that is just the begin­ning,” Lompech said.

People trained in these courses in the ter­ri­tory become vec­tors of new knowl­edge, so the impact [of such activ­i­ties] could be expo­nen­tial,” he added.

The goal is for this knowl­edge to fil­ter down to the many small olive grow­ers that pop­u­late the region. By com­ing together, farm­ers can access the invest­ments needed to trig­ger a new, more mod­ern way of pro­duc­ing olive oil and the income such an approach can pro­vide.

The pro­gram financed dozens of inno­v­a­tive olive devel­op­ment projects pre­sented by local pro­duc­ers.

A few coop­er­a­tives were cre­ated thanks to the pro­gram, and we can expect more to see the light in the future,” Lompech said.

That was also part of our mar­ket-ori­ented research, aimed at hav­ing all actors fully under­stand the national reg­u­la­tions related to olive oil pro­duc­tion as well as the dynam­ics of the inter­na­tional mar­ket, the expec­ta­tions of con­sumers, and so forth,” he added.

According to Lompech, many areas of the olive sec­tor still need to grow, and much remains to be done.

Think of the exports,” he said. Nowadays, Algerian olive oil is mostly sold to inter­na­tional buy­ers in bulk, and they rebrand it and then sell it to other mar­kets.”

That means there is space for some strong Algerian brands to enter the inter­na­tional mar­ket,” Lombech added. We now have a first lead­ing exporter group as the whole ecosys­tem around the olive world moves to another level of pro­duc­tion and cul­ture.”

He pre­dicted that about half of local olive oil pro­duc­tion – which the IOC esti­mates will reach 93,000 tons in the 2023/24 crop year, in line with the five-year aver­age – will use the tools and adopt the best prac­tices pro­vided by the pro­gram.

We have big hopes in the next five or ten years for the new indus­try to grow stronger,” Lompech said. Today’s dynam­ics on the inter­na­tional mar­ket rep­re­sent an oppor­tu­nity, and the olive oil sec­tor is now grow­ing quickly, as the price is still increas­ing and demand stays high.”

I think the coun­try is posi­tioned to become a sig­nif­i­cant player on the inter­na­tional olive oil mar­ket, with its own brand and qual­ity pro­duc­tion,” Lompech con­cluded.


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