Iraqi Kurdistan Latest News

Italy to Train Kurdish Farmers, Open Olive Oil Factory

The article below originally appeared in Rudaw on February 2nd, 2016.

Italy will train Kurdish farmers working in olive groves and open a plant in Iraqi Kurdistan to make olive oil, local farming officials told Rudaw.

Samir Ismael, an agricultural official in Kurdistan, told Rudaw that, “the Italian government provided 789,000 euros for this project,” adding that the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) will monitor the process.

Importing 1.7 Million Trees

According to Iraqi government data in 2008, there are 169,400 olive trees in the Kurdistan region, but most are used for purposes other than producing olives for consumption.

Since the release of that data, Kurdish officials have imported more than 1.7 million olive trees from Syria, Turkey, Italy and Spain, providing an opportunity to 800 new Kurdish farmers to enter the farming sector to grow olives.

“According to the agreement the Italian team will establish the factory in the Kurdistan region in the next 90 days,” Ismael said, adding that experts from the company will remain until the company begins production of olive oil.

He explained that the factory will only to produce olive oil in the first phase, and that more factories will be needed to produce other commodities, including soap.

The factory will be managed by Kurdish olive grove owners, in an agreement with the Kurdish government.

Hashim Kamal, one of the land owners who will work with the factory, said, “We will run the factory with CIHEAM organization.”

After the Islamic State group took control of the Bashik olive factory, the Kurdistan region has only one factory, Mala Umara, for producing olive oil.

The new olive oil factory will be established in the Khabat neighborhood of Erbil. Most of the olive trees in Kurdistan region are in Erbil and Duhok provinces.

[To read more visit Rudaw]

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