Olive Oil Production Becomes Increasingly Viable in Oman

The oil-rich Gulf country planted its first commercial olive trees about ten years ago, which are now bearing fruit and yielding returns for farmers.
Wadi Bani Awf, Oman
By Ofeoritse Daibo
Apr. 16, 2024 00:51 UTC

Efforts to diver­sify the Omani econ­omy are bear­ing fruit, accord­ing to offi­cials in the small king­dom on the south­east­ern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

Previously known for its pome­gran­ates, apri­cots and figs, the moun­tain­ous Al Jabal Al Akhdar region quickly became the heart of Omani olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Ten years after the first olive trees were planted in the region, pro­duc­ers in Al Jabal Al Akhdar yielded 10,000 liters of olive oil from 20,000 trees planted on 40 hectares in the 2022/23 crop year.

See Also:The Growing Pains of Albania’s Ascendant Olive Oil Sector

This yield, val­ued at around 200,000 Omani Rial (€484,000), marked a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone for the region’s olive cul­ti­va­tion,” Abdul Aziz bin Mansour al Shanfari, an offi­cial in the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, told local media.

Oman is an oil-rich Gulf state home to 4.5 mil­lion peo­ple. However, sig­nif­i­cant efforts are under­way to diver­sify its econ­omy, with offi­cials iden­ti­fy­ing olive grow­ing as one way to do so.

Ali Saleh Abdullah Al Forqani, the deputy direc­tor gen­eral of the Royal Gardens and Farm Affairs for Oman, said the kingdom’s push to pro­mote olive oil pro­duc­tion is part of wider plans to pro­mote agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment and diver­sify crop cul­ti­va­tion.

The cli­mate and ter­rain of Al Jabal Al Akhdar are con­ducive to olive cul­ti­va­tion, espe­cially in areas with favor­able soil con­di­tions and suf­fi­cient water resources,” he told Olive Oil Times. Leveraging these nat­ural advan­tages facil­i­tates the effec­tive use of resources.”

The Omani gov­ern­ment is cur­rently dis­trib­ut­ing thou­sands of free olive tree seedlings to farm­ers, encour­ag­ing the cul­ti­va­tion of olive vari­eties suited to Oman’s cli­mate, and pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal advice to millers.

Currently, the gov­ern­ment is dis­trib­ut­ing 20 vari­eties of table olives and olive oil olives from Spain, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria to deter­mine which ones work best in the country’s cli­mate.

According to Al Forqani, the gov­ern­ment is also work­ing with the pri­vate sec­tor to share sci­en­tific research and prac­ti­cal demon­stra­tions on olive tree cul­ti­va­tion, olive grove main­te­nance and qual­ity assess­ment.

Al Jabal Al Akhdar is a moun­tain­ous region in the north of the coun­try, which Al Forqani said it is char­ac­ter­ized by arid to semi-arid cli­mates, with high tem­per­a­tures and min­i­mal rain­fall dur­ing the sum­mer months.”

While dates, toma­toes, cucum­bers, green chilies, pep­pers, water­mel­ons, sorghum and mel­ons are the most pop­u­lar crops in Oman, the impacts of cli­mate change are push­ing farm­ers toward olives.

Climate change poses a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge to Oman’s agri­cul­tural prac­tices, with cur­rent effects and future pre­dic­tions high­lighted in recent reports,” Al Forqani said. These impacts under­score the impor­tance of under­stand­ing and mit­i­gat­ing the con­se­quences of cli­mate change on agri­cul­tural sus­tain­abil­ity and water resource man­age­ment.”

Despite 10 years of olive cul­ti­va­tion, olive oil remains a new prod­uct for Oman. Most olive oil con­sumed in the coun­try is imported from Spain and its Middle Eastern allies, but Al Forqani sees poten­tial, espe­cially as aware­ness of its health ben­e­fits and culi­nary appli­ca­tions grows.

As this prod­uct and mar­ket are still rel­a­tively new in Oman, it will require some time to develop,” he said. However, there is a grow­ing inter­est among con­sumers regard­ing the nutri­tional ben­e­fits of authen­tic local prod­ucts, such as olive oil.”

Al Forqani said the Royal Gardens sub­mit­ted Omani extra vir­gin olive oils to sev­eral qual­ity com­pe­ti­tions in Europe, earn­ing a total of 13 awards.

Such achieve­ments raise aware­ness about the health ben­e­fits and qual­ity of this prod­uct, lead­ing to an increase in the num­ber of farm­ers engag­ing in olive cul­ti­va­tion in recent years, as well as a rise in the num­ber of olive mills and sales over the past five years,” he said.


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