Don’t touch my olive

Don’t touch my olive

One of the most favorite hashtags on social media nowadays is “#zeytinimedokunma,” meaning “don’t touch my olive.” This is a hashtag used by everyone who is opposing a bill that will jeopardize the future of olive trees in Anatolia, which is considered the homeland of olives. 

The Ayvalık Olive Producers Association as well as the Datça Municipality, and of course any considerate person on the street, together with opposition deputies, are all saying “do not touch my olive.” This is a campaign that is growing step by step. 

We are a unique country where no breakfast can be considered a proper one without olives. In such a country, who would have thought olive trees would be in danger? The answer could be that for 15 years, several lobbies, mainly the mining and construction lobbies, have been trying to remove law number 3573, which is known as the protector of olive growers. 

Each time, thanks to reactions by olive growers and the public, efforts to pass the law has failed.  

This time, it was prepared by the Science, Industry and Technology Ministry to remove obstacles ahead of production and investment and is included in the “Production Reform Package.” 

The head of the National Olive and Olive Oil Council (UZZK), Ümmühan Tibet, said the ministry did not ask their opinion while preparing the bill. 

As a matter of fact, a bill concerning olive growing should be the work of the Agriculture Ministry instead of the Industry Ministry. 

The bill is full of traps, according to Tibet. Actually, the bill, which triggered huge reaction from the public and was called the “execution warrant” of the olive trees, was debated in parliament last week and certain articles were trimmed. 

Everybody rejoiced, thinking the olive groves were saved. But soon it was revealed that the bill was full of “traps.” If the bill is processed at the general assembly of the parliament this week, the olive groves will still be in danger. 

 “As UZZK, we are saying that once the bill passes, then it will cause irreversible damage. It will have a blow on the olive sector that has reached today’s level through many difficulties. This bill will negatively affect future generations,” Tibet said.  

Tibet has written to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and all parliament deputies, saying that hundreds of olive fields are the livelihood of 10 million people and that the bill should not pass. 

If the bill is approved, then it would be possible to cut down a century-old olive tree for 4,000 Turkish Liras, she said. 

Only in İzmir’s Karaburun peninsula there are more than 1,000 “monumental olive trees.” “Only a couple of days ago we found an olive tree in Urla that was 2,310 years old. Imagine this tree was on land that was bought by a developer. If that tree blocks his project, he can cut it down,” Tibet said.  

She argued that debates over the olive trees should not be a battlefield for political parties. She rightfully believes it is an issue above politics. 

In the 2014-2015 harvest and production year, the 165,000 tons of olive oil production was worth $600 million. The target for 2023 was 700,000 tons of production worth $3 billion.
Isn’t the “death warrant of the olive tree” in contradiction with the targets of the government?