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Olive cultivations, plantation completed over 12,000 hectares

RAWALPINDI: The government is taking solid steps to enhance Olive cultivation in different areas of the country while over 12,000 hectares areas have been covered under olive plantation.

Dr Muhammad Ramazan Anser, Olive Researcher at Barani Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) Chakwal, while talking to APP informed that during last nearly 20 years, Federal and Provincial governments executed different Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), Annual Development Programme (ADP) and Foreign grant projects and under these projects olive cultivation was completed on approximately over 12,000 hectares.

The olive plantation project was being run in all administrative units of the country and for the first time, Sindh was also included in the project, he added.

However, a comprehensive approach for olive cultivation in the country was missing and to cater this, Federal government decided to formulate a National Program on Olive deepening. Under a plan finalized in this regard, a program for proposed interventions under PSDP Project (Phase-II) (2021-24) was formulated, he said.

The government approved the national program on olive deepening for plantation of olive plants on 75,000 acres in 2021. As Ministry of National Food Security and Research was already executing a PSDP project titled “Promotion of Olive cultivation on commercial scale in Pakistan” through a National Project Director and Project Management Unit (PMU) established in Pakistan oilseed development board, therefore the task was assigned to PMU.

Further, two initiatives were also under consideration for olive cultivation including a project under Southern Balochistan Development Plan (NFS&R) and another project under TBTT (Climate change) Under National Program on Olive deepening, cultivation of olive plants on 75,000 acres, merger of the ongoing project activities with the new initiative to avoid duplication and phase-II of the on-going PSDP project was proposed. This proposed initiative under national program on olive deepening would comprise of the left-over targets of the ongoing project, new proposed activities in southern Balochistan districts and pilot intervention for conversion of 05 million wild olive plants linked with climate change initiative, he added.

Several clusters were identified for olive plantation on the basis of previous plantation, land availability and other climatic variants including Loralai division, D.G. Khan, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Zhob Division, adjoining areas, Khuzdar, Washuk, Noshki, Panjgoor, adjoining areas, District Nowshera, adjoining areas, South Waziristan, D.I. Khan, adjoining areas, Hazara division, adjoining areas, Chakwal and adjoining areas.

Olive plantation and other project interventions would preferably be carried out in above clusters, whereas, the emerging areas of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and province of Sindh would also be given a special attention and attraction, he said.

During the project implementation, new clusters would also be identified and considered for project interventions. Efforts would be made to link the farmers with the private sector vendors for processing, value addition, marketing, and branding of olive products which would lead to the establishment of processing units having potential of employment generation in the respective areas.

The target of proposed olive plantation of 10.125 million plants at 75,000 acres at public and private land with no upper limit of plantation with 67:33 sharing basis would be achieved in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh, AJK, GB and ICT.

Efforts would also be made to bring five million wild olive trees into productive fruit bearing trees through grafting under 2021-24 programme in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh and AJK.

Olive is a drought tolerant plant but need supplementary irrigation through high efficiency system at critical phonological stages to obtain optimum fruit yield, he said adding, high efficiency irrigation system not only saves the water but also contribute towards better survival, quality and less frequency of diseases and insect pests. Drip Irrigation System would be provided for 5,000 acres on 67:33 farmer sharing basis.

To a question he said that a great potential exists in involving the youth in nursery raising, marketing of olive products whereas gender could also be involved in value addition process. Training and exposure visits to educated youth would be arranged in these two keys areas of olive business to facilitate involvement of youth in agribusiness which would lead to creating of more job opportunities, he added.

In this regard several interventions were proposed including 10 matching grants (50% cost basis) to establish olive nursery infrastructure for production of certified local olive nursery plants along with technical assistance. These nursery units would be linked with already established known olive orchards, he added.

Special grants to establish olive fruit processing units for production of value-added products along with technical assistance, for olive oil extraction units, for storage, filling and testing equipment and for harvesting and pruning kits would also be provided to private sector, he informed.

Due emphasis has been given for the strengthening of capabilities of both private and public sectors for the nursery raising, processing, value addition, packaging labeling, branding, certification, and marketing etc. Private sector would also be encouraged for business in entire value chain of olive culture. In this regard 124 specialized trainings would be imparted to all stakeholders, he added.

Certification, branding and marketing of olive oil and all other value-added products is needed to streamline the olive sector. Procedures and practices are required to be adapted according to the standards laid out by International Olive Oil Council.

Based on the gap analyses, support for the public and private sector laboratories would be provided to develop their analytical capacity, standardize/certification of olive oil and its products.

Dr Azmat Awan from Pakistan Agriculture Research Council informed APP that this year 808,000 olive plants were provided to the farmers across the country.

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