Boutique olive press in Haditha, Anbar

Hajj Ayoub olive press doubles olive oil production in 2023

HADITHA, December 30 — Olive oil production at the Hajj Ayoub Olive Press in Haditha has doubled this year, thanks in part to successful harvests in the region, according to the site’s owner.

Ayoub Abdul Ghafour was formerly a technical director at the Haditha Dam. After retiring, he dedicated himself to his farm, acquiring olive tree seedlings from trusted sources and marking the beginning of his olive press.

Ayoub Abdul Ghafour, owner of the Hajj Ayoub Olive Press:

We used to rely on distant presses in Sulaymaniyah because they were rare in Iraq until the idea of purchasing a modern olive press emerged. Olive growing is successful in Iraq’s western regions, contributing to bringing large quantities of olives to the press this year.

Until now, we have pressed more than 45 tons of olives, mostly from farms in Hit and Al-Qaim, representing several times the production of the previous year. We receive high-quality olive varieties, although they are affected by the weather and soil. The production rate ranges between 10-13 percent.

We have refined varieties like the Nepali, originally Palestinian, the Sorani of Italian origin, and the Arbequina, a Spanish variety. The Sorani variety represents 80 percent of my farm’s production. It is resistant to diseases and pests, adapts to high temperatures, and produces first cold press oil. The oil quantity produced is 10 percent of the total weight.

We receive olives from farmers in crates or bags, ensuring they are free of impurities and leaves, as our press lacks a washer.

The olives go through the crusher as the first stage, then to kneading, taking 45 minutes. Afterward, the sorting stage occurs through centrifugal separation provided by modern presses, unlike the old ones that operate with a pressing method.

Pure olive oil, free from impurities, comes out from one side, and olive residues come out from the other.

This press is made of stainless steel, containing no oxidizing agents or preservatives. Therefore, we sell one liter of olive oil for 25,000 Iraqi dinars.