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Ministry of Agriculture encourages olive oil consumption among youth

By Hana Namrouqa - Oct 12,2017 - Last updated at Oct 12,2017

AMMAN — The Ministry of Agriculture announced on Wednesday a new initiative that targets raising awareness among school children on the health benefits of olive oil.

The initiative is unveiled as the country’s olive presses opened their doors this week to this year’s harvest, which is expected to be heavier than last year’s yield, according ministry’s spokesperson Nimer Haddadin.

“We dubbed the new initiative as ‘olive oil and bread.’ The initiative seeks to steer school-age children towards healthy eating habits and to remind the younger generation of the healthy foods our forefathers grew up consuming,” Haddadin told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.

Though the announcement of  the initiative coincides with the start of the olive oil harvest season, the scheme will remain permanent, Haddadin said, noting that it will reach schools in the entire Kingdom.

“Annual consumption of olive oil in Jordan is estimated at three kilogrammes per person. We want the percentage to increase, especially among the younger generation, given the health benefits of olive oil in decreasing cardiovascular diseases,” Haddadin noted.

This year’s  harvest is expected to increase by 40 per cent compared with 2016, the ministry announced recently, indicating that an estimated amount of 252,000 tonnes of olive are expected to be picked this season.

Around 201,000 tonnes of olives will be pressed to produce 36,000 tonnes of olive oil, while around 50,000 tonnes of olive will be pickled. 

A total of 125 olive oil presses are spread across the country, especially in the central and northern regions, with an investment volume exceeding JD200 million.

With more than 20 million trees across the Kingdom, Jordan is among the top 10 olive producing countries in the world. Olive trees occupy 130,000 hectares of the country’s total terrain, and constitute 71 per cent of fruit-cultivated land.  

Official figures indicate that more than 80,000 families are directly involved in olive farming in Jordan and that olive production generates approximately $145 million annually for these families.

 

Olives are one of the most important crops in arid regions, as well as date palms, according to the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas.

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