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Among Olive Trees

Thoughts of olives on a pizza or olives in a salad make one think about Greece, Italy and Spain. However, Morocco is second only to Greece in exports of olives to the world market and are one of Morocco's primary exports. The increase in olive production in Morocco has in many cases served farmers well, yet it seems to simultaneously have environmental impacts. The degradation of the land in Morocco, caused in part by increased agricultural production, is an important issue to be cognizant of when entering a discussion of Moroccan agriculture and her olive subsector. 

The olive branch for centuries has been a symbol of peace. The olive is a small, naturally bitter, oily fruit that contains a pit. It also requires a distinct curing process before it is edible. The olive curing process is one of the most fascinating aspects of the olive. Every country has its own way to cure olives. In Morocco, there are hundreds of ways to cure olives. The ripening process of an olive is also quite remarkable. The fruit passes through a spectrum of colors from pale green, to tan, to violet, to brownish-red and finally to black. Yet, before the ripening and curing stage comes the development of the olive. In May, flowers emerge from the olive tree and these give birth to tiny beads. These beads fatten and harden until September. In September and October, the olive is usually fully formed and can be picked and cured. However, olives usually do not completely ripen until winter. While this is a cursory introduction to the olive, it does not begin to portray the regal nature of the olive and how its existence and presence has defined the essence of many civilizations.

The olive's history in Morocco can be traced to Greek colonizers on Sicily. The colonizers brought the olive to the island and took trees across on to the mainland. Eventually, as trade routes developed, the olive was brought west. The Romans were responsible for planting huge groves in North Africa and by the tenth century, olive trees covered the islands of the Mediterranean and ringed its shores in southern Europe and northern Africa. Thus it is not surprising that the olive is one of Morocco's most fabled, and recently has reemerged as one of its most important, crops.

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Info, research source : TED Case Studies

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