Egypt recently announced an ambitious plan to plant 100 million olive trees by 2022, as the country imports 98% of its olive oil needs.
Egypt's Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation has recently announced its ambitious plan to plant 100 million olive trees by 2022 by offering many land plots to investors. Though Egypt is the world's second-largest exporter of table olives, the government is now fighting tooth and nail to boost the olive oil production, considering that Egypt is a major importer of olive oil.
On 23 April, Agriculture Minister Ezz El Din Abu Steit announced Egypt's strategy to increase its productivity of oil varieties in the coming years with the key aim of extracting olive oil. Abu Steit, who is also the president of the International Olive Council (IOC), said the country will allocate more plots for the cultivation of varieties of olives.
These plots include 10,000 acres in Upper Egypt's West Minya and 25,000 acres in Matrouh and oases in the Western Desert. Both Egyptian and foreign investors can invest in these lands. Meanwhile, the government will offer 10,000 acres in El Tur area in the southern Sinai Peninsula for Egyptian investors only, according to the minister. No distribution of lands has been made so far.
Abu Steit’s announcement came during the international symposium hosted by Egypt in coordination with the IOC, on investment opportunities in the olive sector. The symposium has raised many questions about olive cultivation in Egypt, besides the remarkable discrepancy between Egypt's importation of 98% of its olive oil needs, while most of its olive production is only used in pickling (table olives).
Egyptians tend to favor pickles in general; thus table olives are very important in Egypt and the local production covers the domestic demand. But for olive oil, production is not enough to cover local demand, which is why Egypt seeks to enhance olive oil production to cover local demand and export it.
During his speech, Abu Steit pointed out that the area planted with olives in Egypt increased from 5,000 acres at the end of the 1970s, to more than 100,000 acres at the end of the 1990s. In 2000, it reached approximately 108,000 acres, and has now jumped to more than 240,000 acres. More