`Olive Oil of Oman

Africa / Middle East

Olive Oil of Oman

Dec. 2, 2014
Aldo Pesce

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A wild olive tree in the hot, dry land­scape of Oman (Photo: Mike Wat­son)

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.

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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.


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