ISLAMABAD-The Olive cultivation in the country has been gaining momentum as local output during the current season is projected to cross 11,000 tonnes, showing a significant development towards reducing reliance on the imported edible oil as well as to exploit the export potential of this particular agriculture produce. 

“The country is expecting to extract about 13,000 tonnes of extra virgin olive worth millions of dollars that would help to boost the farm income with less investment and use of inputs,” said Project Director of Olive Cultivation on Commercial Scale in Pakistan Dr Muhammad Tariq while talking to APP here. He said that olive has been successfully cultivated over 27,000 hectares of land across the country and it was set to extend its cultivation to over 70,000  hectares to turn the marginal lands into productive for enhancing the income of small scale growers.

This initiative would help to bring the sami-barren and marginal lands under cultivation of high-value crop in far off areas of the country, he said adding that besides it would help to eliminate poverty by bringing the most vulnerable communities in safety nets through agriculture interventions. Under the olive cultivation project, he said that farmers were provided about 550,000 plants during last year and this year over 675,000 more plants would be distributed among them to promote its cultivation at large scale.

Dr Tariq said that, government intended to provide about 2.2 million plants and bring about 50,000 hectares under olive cultivation by end of 2022-23, adding that if continued with same spirit, the country would be included in the list of potential exports of extra virgin olive oil. Besides cultivation of olive, he said government was also focusing to establish processing units for oil extraction and so far 09 extraction units have been installed in different places to facilitate the growers. Meanwhile, the provincial governments of Punjab and Balochistan have also installed 3 units respectively in different districts, where as the private sector was also active and had installed its mobile plants in Fasilabad and Chakwal.

Dr Tariq said that government was paying special attention to promote olive cultivation in Balochistan and provided about 700,000 plants to growers and it was cultivated in 22 districts, adding that out of the total cultivated plants about 30 per cent have started to produce fruits. In order to facilitate the local growers of Balochistan, 5 oil processing units have been installed there, besides the farmers were also provided training of value addition of the product and processing. 

This year, he said that government had decided to organize Two-day International Olive Conference in Khuzdar, which would be virtually participated by experts from Greece, Italy and Spain, he said adding that local scientists and experts would also take part in the event. The conference to be held from October 21, is aimed to encourage olive cultivation in the province which have a brighter scope in back drop of China-Paksitan Economic Corridor Projects, he added.