The EBRD has been supporting the olive oil sector in SEMED due to, amongst other factors, the commodity’s good domestic and international market prospects and its agro-ecological suitability in a region increasingly impacted by water scarcity. The EBRD and FAO have valuable experience in analysing and addressing key constraints to the agrifood sector’s development in the SEMED region, and in particular in the olive oil value chain. In the selected countries, the olive oil sector presents significant potential for growth; the currently low per capita consumption level, together with population and per capita income growth, can sustain increasing demand for olive oil from domestic and international markets. In addition, the current levels of exports suggest potential for further trade expansion if the countries manage to increase volumes of production. Olive is also a strategic crop in terms of agro-ecologic suitability in a region where water resources are scarce and bound to become even more limited and can have much better greenhouse gas emissions performance when compared with most alternative annual crops. While the olive oil sector seems to hold potential to contribute more significantly towards high value-added agricultural exports and remains socially and economically significant, it also faces several challenges. Some of the key obstacles to development include: i) low yields and high production variability due to farming practices and local climatic conditions, ii) limited alignment of local product quality with international standards due to current production practices, lack of enforcement of international sanitary and phytosanitary regulation and limited domestic consumer awareness about international quality standards, and iii) limited visibility of the products on international markets.
The main objective of this Assignment is twofold: (1) assess opportunities and constraints for the development of the olive oil sector in Jordan, Lebanon, and the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the olive oil and table olive sectors in Egypt and evaluate potential areas for future investment and TC; (2) provide initial capacity development assistance in the selected countries to support improved product quality and productivity in the olive and olive oil sectors, in particular for increased exports. Building on existing engagement in the sector, the FAO has a key role to play in supporting the development of the olive oil sector in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza amongst stakeholders all along the value chain. FAO is an essential partner for project implementation because it: (i) has implemented with the EBRD the four TCs in olive oil (in Tunisia and Morocco) that this project builds on; (ii) has extensive knowledge of the region's olive oil sector; (iii) can leverage its strong relations with the region's Ministries of Agriculture and other public authorities for effective coordination; (iv) has expertise in launching and structuring successful policy dialogue together with the EBRD; and (v) has been advising governments on the olive oil sector through past work geographical indication, labelling, sector review and work on production costs.
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