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Olive growing in the 100th year of the Republic of Turkey (1923-2023)

Bilge Agaç Olive, Olive Oil and Beyond Magazine I November 2023

Cumhuriyet'in 100'üncü yılında zeytinciliğin gelişmesiyle ilgili bilgilersiyle ilgili bilgiler.
From the pen of Prof. Tunalıoğlu and Prof. Özkaya, two academics who gave their lives to olives

English translation of the provided text:

"In this article, information about the development of olive cultivation in the homeland of olive, based on the observations of two academics specialized in olives, Prof. Tunalıoğlu and Prof. Özkaya, is presented in the context of the 100th anniversary of the Republic. It is understood that olive oil is not sufficient to meet the vegetable oil needs of both the world and Turkey today. Due to the olive-growing geography, olives, which cannot be cultivated in every region worldwide, are considered among the scarce and valuable goods and services in line with economic principles.

The olive cultivation policies of Turkey, which holds a special position in terms of olive cultivation globally, have been examined in the 100th year of the Republic (1923-2023). The impacts of these policies on the economy (trade and agriculture) and social life (health, culture, human capital) have been evaluated by considering important criteria.

Turkey, located within Upper Mesopotamia, the homeland of the olive tree, is rich in genetic resources. Considering that olives were cultivated in Anatolian lands 4,000 years ago, it is emphasized that olive trees have completed their adaptation to these lands for a total of 6,023 years, demonstrating harmony with the ecology. Furthermore, it is possible to underline that the greatest legacy of olive cultivation in Anatolian lands is the contentment and patience of farmers involved in olive farming."

Cumhuriyet'in 100'üncü yılında zeytinciliğin gelişmesiyle ilgili bilgiler
From the pen of Prof. Tunalıoğlu and Prof. Özkaya, two academics who gave their lives to olives

English translation of the provided text:


In the Republic of Turkey established by Atatürk, the initial steps in agricultural policies were taken with the decision to abolish the Aşar Tax, made during the Economic Congress convened in İzmir on February 17, 1923. This period is considered the beginning of olive cultivation and olive oil policies, similar to the overall agricultural policies, and the first intervention was made by addressing legal gaps.

The initial legal regulations related to olive groves were established with the Law No. 1528 on June 10, 1929, regarding the Grafting of Wild Trees. This law regulated the grafting of wild trees, specifying the process for obtaining permission for grafting olive trees.

There was an incredible increase in the number of olive trees during this period, indicating the protection of olive cultivation in these lands. Subsequently, the draft law titled "Law on Grafting of Beneficial and Wild Olive Trees and Processing of Olive Products," prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture and presented to the Cabinet on May 7, 1937, acknowledged olive cultivation not only as an economic value but also as an activity shaping nature and social life, ensuring its protection.

The olive, the fruit of the olive tree, has historically met various fundamental needs of settled people in this region, such as food, health, and cosmetics.

During this process, the superior characteristics of some specific olive trees were recognized, leading to the preservation of these traits and the creation of new varieties. To protect the minor components in olive oil that are valuable for health, a geographical indication system was implemented, and Turkish olive oils started receiving awards in competitions worldwide.


While olive cultivation was legally protected during Atatürk's time, it has been devalued in subsequent years due to illegal activities. Misinformation in olive cultivation, olive farming, and olive oil production has increased with the advancement of communication technology.

In place of traditional storage methods, using plastic containers for storage and transportation has replaced old practices related to olive oil. Additionally, adulteration and counterfeiting have been carried out in olive oil with the aim of unfair profit.

Cumhuriyet'in 100'üncü yılında zeytinciliğin gelişmesiyle ilgili bilgiler
From the pen of Prof. Tunalıoğlu and Prof. Özkaya, two academics who gave their lives to olives

English translation of the provided text:

Because producers in Thrace have still not achieved effective organization among all stakeholders, problems persist in storage and licensing warehousing activities. Despite companies producing excessive quantities, they cannot compete with Italy and Spain, which dominate the world market for high-quality packaged and branded olive oil, due to high costs. On the other hand, a few companies producing high-quality olive oil rich in polyphenols such as oleocanthal, oleasin, tyrosol, and hydroxytyrosol also face challenges in competition due to logistical issues. It is possible to characterize this as a lack of effective lobbying/diplomacy not only in quantity-focused production but also in value-added export. Unfortunately, despite their knowledge of olive cultivation, the people of Anatolia, those who inhabit the established geography of olive cultivation, have often failed to unite.


In this context, it is suggested to complete the inventory study that has been started but not yet finished, encompassing all structural issues in olive groves, based on various parameters (which vary depending on factors such as the phenolic content of olive oils obtained from different varieties, the maturity level of olives, the region of cultivation, irrigation, olive pests, climatic conditions, and extraction methods).

Other recommendations include identifying olive varieties that are more abundant than currently known, determining biotic and abiotic stresses in olives, detecting water and nutrient deficiencies in olives, predicting yield with digitalization in olives, bringing olive genetic resources into the economy, increasing support for selection breeding studies in olive groves, preparing catalogs containing information on the genetic and minor (health) components of local olive varieties, preserving olive genetic resources with the cryoprotection technique, establishing an In Vitro olive sapling production center that will exclusively serve nurseries in certified sapling production, completing preliminary work for olive cultivation with soil processing methods, olive cultivation with limited or no irrigation, ensuring integrity from sapling to orchard, orchard to factory, factory to packaging, and packaging to consumer, educating not only producers but also consumers, and assigning young agricultural engineers employed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to field duties for neglected or unattended olive groves through inheritance.

If the people living in the lands we currently inhabit were to come and ask us, "Children, for the past 6,000 years or since 1923, what have you done differently for olives and olive oil in these lands?" we would say, "We have achieved the difficult, but we have not yet achieved the most difficult. We have succeeded in producing quality, but we have not yet succeeded in producing more and producing less than what the country produces."


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