Rawalpindi - Pir Mehar Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) in collaboration with US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Punjab Enabling Environment Project (PEEP) organised a training seminar for olive farmers on olive cultivation in the Potohar Region yesterday with an aim to promote olive sector development by raising awareness among olive farmers on olive production technologies, harvesting practices, and irrigation schedule.

On the occasion, Dr Ayesha Saeed, Project Director Programme Management Unit (PMU)-Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (PIPIP) was the chief guest while Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad Vice Chancellor PMAS-AAUR was the guest honour.

This training seminar was attended by 200 participants including olive farmers as well as other relevant stakeholders from research and academic institutions, government departments, and private sector organisations. It included multiple sessions on various techniques and technologies for olive cultivation.

Representatives from USAID Punjab Enabling Environment Project (PEEP) also gave an overview of project’s Matching Grants Programme and other initiatives for olive sector development. In other presentations, participants were informed on the different phases of olive production, propagation, post-harvest handling, processing, and storage, and developing olive products. 

Other participants at the event including chief of Party USAID PEEP Muhammad Junaid, Director General Ayub Agriculture Research Institute (AARI) Dr Abid Mehmood and representatives from Barani Agriculture  Research Institute (BARI) and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR).

While addressing, Dr Ayesha Saeed said that agriculture is one of the priority development sectors of Punjab government and the government is fulfilling its commitments with all areas of agriculture especially the interest of farmers. Olive sector has numerous potential in Punjab particular region of Potohar.

She added that Punjab Government is very much enthusiastic to promote olive sector development as it can help the country to produce a big amount of olive oil. She further said that Potohar area is suitable for olive cultivation and its plant does not much water, fertilizer and pesticide. “Moreover the product has very high price and olive crop has certain distinctive advantages over other conventional horticulture crops,” she added.

Earlier, PMAS-AAUR Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad in his welcome address said that the government is taking keen interest in the development of agriculture sector. He said that Potohar region has been declared ‘Olive Valley’ by the government and it possesses ideal climatic conditions and land for the commercial cultivation of olive orchards.

He said, “The horticulture sector has been neglected for long time because the conventional crops are not yielding high return to the growers therefore we should shift our focuses to other crops like olive that give high yield.”

He hoped that this training will be beneficial not only for trainees but also for the whole olive sector. He also thanked and praised the USAID for promoting olive oil cultivation in Pakistan.