Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation has announced plans to plant 100M olive oil trees by 2022 to boost olive oil production, Al Monitor reported on 9 May.

While Egypt was the world’s second largest producer of table olives after Spain – producing 450,000 tonnes of table olives in 2018/19 compared with Spain’s 613,000 tonnes – it had to import 98% of its olive oil needs.

The new strategy to boost the country’s olive oil production, announced by Agriculture Minister Ezz El Din Abu Steit on 23 April, would see more plots allocated for the cultivation of varieties of olives.

The plots included 10,000 acres (4,047ha) in West Minya, 25,000 acres (10,117ha) in Matrough region and oases in the Western Desert, available to both Egyptian and foreign investors, Al Monitor reported. The government would also offer 10,000 acres (4,047ha) in El Tur for Egyptian investors only.

Abu Steit, who is also president of the International Olive Council (IOC), said the olive planted area in Egypt had increased from 5,000 acres (2,023ha) at the end of the 1970s, to more than 100,000 acres (40,469ha) at the end of the 1990s.

The figure was 108,000 acres (43,706ha) in 2000 and was currently more than 240,000 acres (97,125ha), Al-Monitor wrote.

"This step is inevitable. We import 98% of olive oil demands, though the olive tree is the most suitable tree to be cultivated in the country since it can be planted in different types of soil and does not consume large quantities of water," head of Egyptian Farmers Syndicate Hussein Abu Saddam told Al-Monitor.

According to Olive Oil Times, Egyptian olive oil production rose from 2,500 tonnes in 2005 to 25,000 tonnes in 2015.