The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Sultanate of Oman declared the historical achievement: “The olive trees of Jabal al-Akhdar gave generously plentiful of their oil this season.“
This short but meaningful sentence was accompanied by a short Youtube video showing people wearing typical Omani dresses while delicately harvesting bright fruits, talking about the virtues of this tree resistant to dryness.
The story of olive oil in Oman began twenty years ago when Salim Ben Hamid Al Ma’mri, a man from the village of Kahnat, in Ibri district, planted an olive tree given to him as a present by an Egyptian teacher. After some years, the lonely tree started giving fruits and hasn’t stopped.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, encouraged by the success of this Omani olive pioneer, brought from abroad, especially from Syria, several varieties of olive trees but the dry and hot Omani climate was too much for them.
But the will to produce olive oil pushed the Ministry to continue to invest in research and, in 2009, an engineer at Sultan Qaboos University, Qais Ben Saif Al Maawali, started trials in different areas and the success story of olive growing in Oman began.
The Ministry provided a small facility for olive oil extraction, allowing local farmers to use it for free.
After years of low production, from 2010 to 2013, some started to question if the groves could adapt to Omani land. But, surprisingly this spring trees blossomed and now the Ministry and farmers are claiming victory.
Based on research stations installed in different districts with good results, Maawali said olive trees can prosper just about anywhere in Oman.
Time will tell if the patience and the efforts of men and women of Oman will be rewarded.