CNFA implemented the two-year, $3.18 million Zaytun Project to strengthen strategic components of the table olive and olive oil value chains in the regions of Nubaria and Matrouh. We accomplished this through the delivery of targeted technical assistance to small and medium Egyptian olive processors and training with complimentary grants-matching assistance to smallholder olive farmers.

Working with local partners, like the Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI) and the Egyptian Olive Council, the Zaytun Project addressed short-term problems that olive producers and processors face, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable development. In collaboration with these partners, CNFA designed a strong, value-chain-based program that strengthened production and post-harvest practices of olive farmers, delivered technical assistance and training to small and medium-sized table olive oil and olive oil processors, and facilitated business linkages between supported olive grower’s associations and processors. Through various policy initiatives, the Zaytun Project increased expansion into higher-value export markets and orchestrated an overall improvement of the reputation and image of the Egyptian olive industry.

Beyond the original objectives of the program, the Zaytun Project also yielded the blossoming of Egyptian olive oil on the international stage. For instance, in collaboration with the Chamber of Food Industry, the Zaytun Project developed an olive industry website to increase exposure of the Egyptian olive sector. Additionally, the success of Project-sponsored processors at an international olive oil competition marked an important step in establishing the reputation of Egyptian olive oil internationally, as well as introducing a new identity of Egyptian olive oil on the international market. After this success in 2013, it is likely new categories will be created for North African olive oils in next year’s competition.

Program Approach:

  • Strengthened smallholder olive producers through assistance to improve their production practices and post-harvest handling, and organized them into viable growers associations;
  • Strengthened olive processors through technical assistance to improve quality and engaged in value addition that led to increased exports, profits and employment;
  • Facilitated producer-processor linkages through the creation of direct linkages between growers and processors, resulting in improved olive supply, strengthened commercial relations and increased sales and incomes for producers and processors.

Strengthening Producers: The Zaytun Project orchestrated intensive training, technical assistance, association development, and study tour activities to educate olive producers on best practice techniques. The core training activity was a Farm Field School (FFS) training program, where a tiered design allowed the lessons of a few technical specialists to reach thousands of olive farmers. The Project compiled a manual in Arabic and English to ensure these experts could carry the lessons learned into future training programs. Additionally, the Zaytun Project awarded four 1:1 grants to farmers’ associations that resulted in the creation and upgrade of several micro-processing units for pickling olives, as well as the funding for two composting projects. Finally, the Zaytun Project facilitated a study tour in Italy to further strengthen farm management and collective marketing of olives.

Strengthening Processors: After an intensive selection phase, the Zaytun Project chose 15 processor companies to participate in a series of technical assistance, training, and trade show activities. Two international experts were mobilized to serve as consultants for these processors. Using standardized techniques of assessment, on-site assistance, recommendation reports, and final training workshops, these consultants directly addressed the individual obstacles facing each business. An additional marketing consultant was hired to assess production and marketing of olive products, provide on-the-spot marketing advice, and collect oil samples for entrance into an international competition. Furthermore, the Zaytun Project compiled a manual to ensure the advice of the consultants could be preserved and easily distributed. A supplementary training session on agro-finance was organized with four Egyptian banks that resulted in the creation of the first working capital loan projects for the olive sector in the country. Through targeted training and technical assistance, the Zaytun Project fortified the techniques and opportunities of Egyptian olive processing companies.

Strengthening Market Linkages: The Zaytun Project hosted a total of four market linkage workshops to bring together olive producers and processors. CNFA worked directly with producer and processor representatives with the objective of facilitating business linkages between Egyptian olive farmers and processors.

In an effort to expose olive processors to the international market, the Zaytun Project also sponsored the attendance of beneficiary processors to two international food shows; the Private Label Manufacturer’s Association (PLMA) International Trade Show in Amsterdam in 2013 and the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington DC in 2012. Prior to attendance, the participants received coaching and suggestions on food show marketing and sales strategies.

An identified critical supply chain linkage constraint was a lack of information regarding location and production of olive farms. To address this issue, our team conducted a survey of all beneficiary olive farms to gather contact information and determine the acreage of production for each olive variety. Zaytun shared this information across to the entire sector through an Egyptian Olive Stakeholder Directory, distributed widely throughout Egypt.

Program Impact:

  • 3,929 farmers trained in best production practices across the entire olive crop cycle, exceeding project goals of training 2,900 farmers;
  • $229,100 in grants awarded to growers associations;
  • $301,662 in matching contributions, bringing the total investment into the post-harvest training and infrastructure to $530,762;
  • Farms participating in the crop cycle training program realized, on average, a 55% increase in production;
  • The average beneficiary’s increase in production and price/ton to the productive acreage (about 27,000 feddans) resulted in an aggregated $6.16 million increase in sales for project beneficiaries, an increase of 60% in income, far exceeding the Zaytun Project’s goal of 30%;
  • Beneficiary processors experienced a 7.8% increase in production in comparison to their production one year before the project interventions, which resulted in a rise in sales worth $5.24 million.