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Vahap MUNYAR "Let 10 per cent of our olive oil be a 'special health product', let 2 billion Euros come"

Prof. Mücahit Taha Özkaya, a lecturer at the Department of Horticulture of the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Ankara, emphasised some data on olive oil at a meeting attended by the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Prof. Vahit Kirişçi:

  • 200 million tonnes of vegetable oil is produced in the world. Only 3 million tonnes of this is olive oil.

  • Spain is the largest olive oil producer with 1.5 million tonnes.

  • Spain is followed by Italy, Greece, Tunisia and Turkey.

  • Olive oil produced by 1700 factories in Turkey is around 200 thousand tonnes.

  • Olive oil produced by a cooperative in Spain reaches 300 thousand tonnes.

After these data, he underlined the following point:

- The biggest player in table olive oil is Spain. Italy is almost non-existent in table olive oil. Italy plays for gourmets. In such an environment, we need to focus on the "health" side of the business.

He stated that olive oils with very high polyphenol content can be sold for 100 Euros per litre in the world:

- If we transform 10 per cent of the olive oil produced in our country into a product with very high polyphenol content, and if we make marketing in terms of "health" our export income would reach 2 billion Euros.

Prof. Özkaya emphasised that the Department of Horticulture of the Faculty of Agriculture of Ankara University could undertake the supervision on this issue:

- However, from the big olive oil producers in our country, "Are our oils unhealthy?" appeals came immediately.

Prof. Mücahit Taha Özkaya, who is also a consultant for Yeniköy Kemerköy (YK) Energy, opened up the subject of transforming olive oil into a special health product when we met on the occasion of the 8th Olive Harvest Festival in Milas.

Mesut Serhat Dinç, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Manager of Yeniköy Kemerköy Energy, in which IC İçtaş Energy and Limak Energy are partners with a 50 percent share each, showed Şeref Oğuz and me the areas that had turned into olive groves after the coal extraction operations ended during the harvest festival in Milas.

Prof. Mücahit Taha Özkaya pointed to a tree full of olives:

- If the harvest had been done in September, olive oil with very high polyphenol content, "special health product"like olive oil could have been obtained. As the oil content of olives increases, the polyphenol content decreases. That is, ripe olives have low polyphenol content.

Then he shared what he had told at the meeting attended by the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Prof. Kirişçi and added:

- I believe that Turkey will be more profitable by orientating towards "special health product" in olive oil, and I believe that olive producers will also gain from this.

He continued his proposal:

- The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism should form a commission to pave the way for the sale of "olive oil for health", i.e. olive oil with high polyphenols, as "food supplements".

She took out a small bottle of olive oil from her bag and let him taste it:

- Very high in polyphenols, olive oil has health-protective and therapeutic properties. For this reason, this olive oil produced in the form of "special health product" may be sold in pharmacies.

As suggested by Prof. Özkaya, small producers producing olive oil with high polyphenols in the form of "special health products" are experimenting in the domestic market.

Can't we work on Prof. Özkaya's suggestion and try to make Turkey stand out in the world olive oil market with a "special health product"?

Can we work on Özkaya's suggestion and try to make Turkey stand out in the world olive oil market with "special health product"?

For the 'special health product', 1 litre of oil is obtained from 15 kilos of olives.

ANKARA University Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Horticulture Prof. Mücahit Taha Özkaya stated that the oil formation in olives starts in August:

- Polyphenol content increases under stress. One litre of olive oil with very high polyphenol content is obtained by pressing 15 kilograms of olives.

He also gave the following information for normal cold pressed olive oil:

- Normally, 1 litre of cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil is obtained from 3-4 kilos of olives.

He emphasised on the health components in olives:

- The importance of the minor constituents in olive fruit, also called "health components" and that they are so valuable was not fully known in the world until 15-20 years ago.

He then added:

-  If the health components in the olive fruit are transferred into olive oil, it is called "High Polyphenol-Extra Virgin Olive Oil".

He argued that the consumption of olive oil "like medicine", which is very high in polyphenols, improves the quality of life in healthy people:

- The health components in olive oil produced with care at all stages of the supply chain from the garden to the bottle and obtained from the local varieties of our country will be able to serve as supplementary food for many diseases.

Overwatered olive tree becomes spoilt

Olive Prof. Mücahit Taha Özkaya, founder of Academy Agriculture Trade Limited Company, emphasised the adaptability of the olive tree to the climate:

- In the desert in Africa, olive trees survive even in 100 millimetres of rainfall. There, olive trees should be planted 25 metres apart. Olive groves are like that in Tunisia.

He then added:

- Olive trees that are over-watered become spoilt.

He pointed out the irrigation situation in Turkey:

- 15 per cent of the olive trees in our country are irrigated.

Then he pointed to Turkey's potential:

- We can plant olive trees, which grow even in the Sahara Desert, on the mountains and stones in our country. In this way, we can increase the olive oil production in our country to 1 million tonnes.


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