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Cultivation of olive trees in Cyprus goes way back in the history of the island, the archaeological discoveries prove that they were cultivated on the island already 4000 years ago, and that there was an olive press in the vicinity of Limassol 1000 B.C. In modern times the greatest development of olives cultivation took place in the 1930s of the 20th century. Between 1946 and 1958 the number of olive trees increased by 40% and they have become the most numerous non-forest trees.
Cypriot olive plantations currently occupy 13,000ha and the number of trees exceeds 3,000,000. It is estimated that Cyprus produces from 7,000 to 12,000 tons of olive oil per year. Detailed data is unavailable, as many farmers produce oil only for the needs of their own families.
Most oil produced in Cyprus comes from traditional plantations. The recent decade is characterized by dynamic growth of ecological plantations, i.e. not using chemicals, insecticides and fertilizers – this applies particularly to planters producing Extra Virgin olive oil (cold-pressed), the most valued by dietary specialists and doctors.
Its manufacturers are under particular supervision and control of specialized international companies and institutes issuing quality certificates, which guarantees the highest standards of Cypriot products. Perfect climatic and soil conditions of Cyprus result in the Cypriot Extra Virgin oil having a magnificent gold colour, unique aroma and taste. Most of its production is exported – ca. 500-2000 tons per year – and the main recipients are EU countries.
A significant part of Cypriot manufacturers of olive oil is associated in producer’s organization The Cyprus Olive Products Marketing Board (S.E.K.E.P). This organization performs regulatory functions, it has research facilities, helps in the implementation of new technological solutions in the production of olive oil, supervises plantation crops, as well as – on behalf of its members – conducts promotional campaigns and export.
Olive oil is exported also by individual, independent Cypriot manufacturers, and all export production meets standards and norms of the European Union.