Montenegro Victorious at 3rd Olive Picking Championship

Four Montenegrin olive harvesting experts delivered the small country its first World Olive Picking Championship, defeating two-time champion Croatia. Neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina finished in second place.

Triumphant team Montenegro. Photo courtesy of Domagoj Blazevic.
Oct. 15, 2019
By Julie Al-Zoubi
Triumphant team Montenegro. Photo courtesy of Domagoj Blazevic.

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A team of Mon­tene­grin olive pick­ers has won the third unof­fi­cial World Olive Pick­ing Cham­pi­onship on the Croa­t­ian island of Brač.

Croa­tia, which won the first olive pick­ing com­pe­ti­tion in 2017 and defended their title in 2018, dropped to sixth place in the third edi­tion of the annual event.

This year, the Croa­t­ians fielded an eclec­tic team com­posed of the mayor of Split, an Olympic gold medal­ist, a tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter and a blog­ger. How­ever, this team of national celebri­ties was no match for the Mon­tene­grin experts, who picked 77.6 kilo­grams (171 lbs) of olives.

At this event, we are pro­mot­ing olive oil through tourism, and tourism through agri­cul­ture.- Ljerka Vla­hović, direc­tor of Postira Agro-Coop­er­a­tive

The Mon­tene­grins were fol­lowed in a some­what dis­tant sec­ond by the team from neigh­bor­ing Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina, who picked 57.6 kilo­grams (127 lbs). A team from South Africa rounded out the top three, har­vest­ing 56 kilo­grams (123.5 lbs). The Croa­t­ians only man­aged to pick 50.4 kilo­grams (111 lbs).

Teams from twelve coun­tries trav­elled to Croa­tia for the com­pe­ti­tion this year, which wel­comed com­peti­tors from Poland, Ger­many, Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina, Mon­tene­gro, Eng­land, Slove­nia, South Africa, the United States, Slo­va­kia, France and Bel­gium. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Tunisia did not arrive due to visa prob­lems.

See more: Olive Oil Cul­ture

The event was orga­nized by the Postira Tourist Board and the Postira Agri­cul­tural Coop­er­a­tive to pro­mote olive grow­ing and olive oil pro­duc­tion in Croa­tia.

Weather con­di­tions were great! Sunny and warm, we were all wear­ing short sleeves,” Ivana Jelinčić, direc­tor of Postira Tourist Board told Olive Oil Times. She described the event as a great suc­cess and said that both the par­tic­i­pants and the orga­niz­ers had thor­oughly enjoyed the com­pe­ti­tion.

The olive pick­ing con­test, which fol­lowed the peak tourist sea­son on the island, had a fes­tive atmos­phere with work­shops, wine tast­ings and enter­tain­ment. The event also pro­vided an oppor­tu­nity for peo­ple from olive and non-olive pro­duc­ing coun­tries around the world to net­work, explore the island and show­case their own olive prod­ucts.

The com­pe­ti­tion has cat­e­gories for both tra­di­tional and mod­ern olive pick­ing and the rules dic­tate that each team has four mem­bers made up of two males and two females.

The com­pe­ti­tion took place in the pic­turesque 16th-cen­tury port vil­lage of Postira, which boasts a his­tory of olive cul­ti­va­tion going back cen­turies. After the com­pe­ti­tion par­tic­i­pants were treated to an excur­sion of the island and attended an awards cer­e­mony din­ner.

Ljerka Vla­hović, direc­tor of Postira Agro-Coop­er­a­tive told Olive Oil Times that he hopes the com­pe­ti­tion will moti­vate peo­ple to con­tinue the work of their ances­tors. Although Brač is home to around one mil­lion olive trees, only half of them are cur­rently cul­ti­vated, Vla­hović said.

He described the cham­pi­onship as a great oppor­tu­nity to show to the world our tra­di­tion, our high-qual­ity olive oil, our island, our vil­lage, our cul­ture, and all this through part of the year when local peo­ple are doing the same – pick­ing olives.”

Vla­hović who over­saw the event and kept a watch­ful eye on the olive weigh­ing added, at this event we are pro­mot­ing olive oil through tourism, and tourism through agri­cul­ture.”

After the event the pro­cess­ing of olive oil will be made in our Agro-coop­er­a­tive,” he added.

Postira Agro-coop­er­a­tive was estab­lished in 1945 as a place for the island’s olive grow­ers to pro­duce olive oil and has its own olive groves and cit­rus trees.

Accord­ing to Vla­hović, 2012 was the coop­er­a­tive’s best year to date with almost two mil­lion kilo­grams (4.4 mil­lion lbs) of olives processed.

Soon we will get a cer­tifi­cate that allows us to export our olive oil all over the world, under the name Brač olive oil’,” he added.

Croa­tia has gained world-wide recog­ni­tion for its high-qual­ity olive oil. Most recently, Croa­t­ian pro­duc­ers picked up the fourth most awards at the 2019 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion.

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