BIO Organic oils of the Estate Villa Essaouira, certified organic production in the region Chiadma, are the official winners of the International Exhibition of Agriculture of Meknes. In winning the prize for the best extra virgin olive oil, Abderrahim Ezzaher can see the reward for 10 years of hard work and passion. Here is an exclusive interview for Made in Essaouira.
Abderrahim Ezzaher, owner and producer of organic oils in Essaouira, tells the story of his olive oil, to the first oil production certified organic by European standards, to now.
“We start with a mule and then the machine”
“The story is very simple,” he begins with a smile…”When we arrived in Morocco, my wife (cooking teacher and author of Villa Maroc food) always traveled with olive oil from Tuscany. When we moved to Essaouira, there were a few olive trees in the field. I decided I wanted to produce excellent olive oil” he says.
Abderrahim and his family wanted to offer a local product of high quality, with the desire to prove to many that the region of Essaouira, could offer excellent quality olive oil, which could be appreciated by all. In 2000, in his country home, he made a few liters in a traditional mill, this is an achievement which he fondly remembers and shows us photos from family albums, memories of an adventure that has fascinated him. In 2001, the villa acquired 23 hectares in the provence of Chiadma, a small unit that produces little more than 7 to 10,000 liters of olive oil per year, the machine that replaced the mule to press the olives.
Extra virgin olive oil, virgin or refined
Before embarking on his project, Abderrahim visited many oil mills in Morocco and abroad, read many books on the subject, and built up extensive knowledge of olive trees. He explains the difference between extra virgin olive oil (cold pressed within hours after harvest) and others, including organic. The acidity, for example, must not exceed 0.8% for extra virgin olive oil and up to 2% for virgin oil.
Eco-certified and rewarded: Oils of Essaouira at the top
Made by hand and the quality natural farming have allowed the oils to be internationally eco-certified. Since 2006, the oils produced on the estate have won numerous regional and national awards. Winning first prize for their extra virgin olive oil at the International Exhibition of Agriculture Meknes on April 27th, only affirms the success of his career and the quality of their olive oil.
Proud of his work and grateful for the recognition he receives, Abderrahim has now reached his goal, and tells us all the hours spent on his farm are a pleasure. In the past 10 years he has discovered in him a passion for his land and the immense happiness to make it fruitful, a reward that is priceless.
Text Alice Joundi
Pictures Estate Villa Morocco