(MENAFN- Jordan Times) AMMAN - The 23rd edition of the National Olive Festival and Rural Products Exhibition is set to kick off on Thursday at the Jordanian Exhibition Centre in Mecca Mall.
The 10-day festival is organised by the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The importance of this national festival springs from the fact that olive trees are a source of income for thousands of Jordanian families, and their produce is a main component in various food products,” NARC Director General Nizar Haddad told The Jordan Times.
Aside from their economic value, Jordanian olives also carry a historical, cultural, and social significance, according to Haddad.
He also noted that this festival provides small-scale farmers and rural women with a window to market and sell their products, in addition to introducing local consumers to the varieties of olive trees planted across the Kingdom, and the“unique flavours” of their yielded oil.
In 2022, the festival displayed the products of over 500 participants, welcomed approximately 250,000 visitors, and brought in a total revenue exceeding JD3 million, according to Haddad.
He added that the festival, which coincides with the olive harvest season, also features educational seminars, as well as traditional foods and handicrafts from various Jordanian cities. However, the usual artistic and musical segments have been cancelled in solidarity with people in Gaza.
Haddad also noted that a team of lab technicians will provide free-of-charge olive oil testing services throughout the festival for both consumers and producers.
Oil containers tested by NARC labs on the festival ground will be labelled with QR codes, providing information on the exact source, quality and quantity of the sold product, he said.
Head of the Olive Research Department at NARC Ibrahim Al Amad noted that this festival is a guaranteed source of high quality,“unadulterated” olive oil.
NARC, in cooperation with the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA), tests representative samples of olive oil on the festival ground to ensure that they meet chemical and sensory quality standards set by the International Olive Council, he told The Jordan Times.
NARC is a member of a committee which aims to protect Jordanian olive oil and ensure, through awareness-raising, such that no consumer falls victim to misleading advertisements on social media platforms selling olive oil for reduced prices, he added.
According to Amad, it was found upon tracing similar advertisements and following up on complaints from a number of consumers that they promote“adulterated” oil, which can have negative health repercussions if consumed.
NARC is also taking part in a campaign encouraging consumers to test their olive oil and buy it from trusted sources.
In a statement sent to The Jordan Times, Director of the Olive Directorate at the Ministry of Agriculture Murad Maaytah said that there are 145 olive presses distributed across the Kingdom, operating 317 production lines with a production capacity equal to 407 tonnes of olive fruits per hour.
The olive milling season this year began in October 17, and it is expected to yield 250,000 tonnes of olive fruits, approximately 50,000 tonnes of which are used for picking purposes, while the remaining 200,000 are milled, he said.
The volume of olive oil production this year is expected to reach between 30,000 and 33,000 tonnes, of which 25,000 tonnes cover the needs of the local market, while the remaining 8,000 tonnes are retained as a strategic reserve, he added.
The Ministry of Agriculture prevented the importation of olive oil to protect the local product, according to Maaytah.
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