Address by the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Mr Petros Xenophontos, at the 60th session of the Advisory Committee of the International Olive Council
It is a great honor for Cyprus to host the 60th session of the Advisory Committee of the International Olive Council here in Lefkosia. The olive tree has been cultivated in Cyprus since ancient times. In fact, the oldest reference to olive tree cultivation in the world is in the village of Fyllia in the Keryneia province of Cyprus in 4,800 BC. Moreover, excavations in settlements and temples of the Neolithic Period here in Cyprus, brought to light some of the oldest olive mills in the whole Mediterranean region.
To this day, the olive tree is one of the most important traditional tree crops of Cyprus with olives and olive oil to be an integral part of the Cypriot diet, while they are also linked to our customs and traditions.
In Cyprus today, the cultivation of olive trees is considered to be the biggest and most important in terms of area as it amounts to approximately 9.000 hectares. For the production of olive oil, 33 olive mills operate throughout the country, most of which use modern olive oil extraction methods. The annual production of olive oil, reaches to approximately 5,000 tons, with most of it to be extra virgin olive oil, while a quantity of approximately 500 tons is certified as organic olive oil.
The soil and climate conditions of Cyprus are ideal for the production of high-quality olive oil. The Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, having as its main goal the improvement of the olive growing sector, provides producers with all possible assistance, both in terms of cultivation and production, as well as in terms of marketing. Furthermore, the Panel for Organoleptic Assessment of Olive Oil, the only one recognized by the International Olive Council, operates in Cyprus under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture.
Cyprus joined the International Olive Council as a full member in 1992, while since May 1, 2004, the date on which Cyprus joined the European Union, it has been represented at the International Olive Council by the European Union, a practice consistent with all member states. Cyprus attaches particular importance to the role of the International Olive Council and therefore participates in its meetings and proceedings. Cyprus also participates with officers in technical and educational programs, organized by the International Olive Council, while at the same time, it uses its grants to carry out actions related to trainings and information to the public related to the beneficial properties of olive oil.
As part of our effort to further improve and highlight the olive growing sector in our country, Cyprus has requested to host the 60th session of the Advisory Committee and we are very pleased that this request has been accepted. I am sure that you and the members of the Advisory Committee will find your visit to Cyprus fruitful and pleasant, and familiarize with the Cypriot olive products.
I would also like to thank the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Madrid, as well as the Deputy Ministry of Tourism of Cyprus for their contribution to the organization of today's session and tomorrow’s Technical Visit.
I wish you every success in today's session.
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