Saturday September 18, 2021

Potohar Region: ‘Two million olive saplings to be planted till 2020’

April 23, 2018

Rawalpindi: The Punjab government under a five-year (2015-2020) plan, has arranged plantation of over 900,000 Olive saplings in Potohar Region which has been declared ‘Olive Valley’ and the government was on schedule in its target of planting two million olive saplings till 2020.

Talking to APP, Barani Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) Director Dr. Muhammad Tariq said that the olive saplings are provided free of cost to the eligible farmers of the region including Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Jhelum, Attock and Khurshab districts.

The programme was launched for promoting local production of olive oil and curtailing import bill of edible oil sector, he added. He said that the growers are offered subsidy in accordance with the set rules and procedure and they are bound to fully comply with the recommendations of the Provincial Agriculture Department.

He said for the purpose the Punjab Agriculture Department had imported high quality saplings from best recognised countries for the production of olive. “The eligibility criteria for the grant of free olive saplings extend to those farmers belonging to the region, who possess sufficient irrigation resources for the maintenance of an olive orchard, or who aspire to avail the 70 per cent subsidy available, to manage irrigation resources. If the grower opts to establish a drip irrigation system, then the applicant shall be eligible to avail a 60 per cent subsidy. The area of Potohar region has suitable climatic conditions for olive cultivation as presence of wild olives at large area was already in the region. That’s why the government decided to turn Potohar into olive valley,” he said.

He further elaborated that olive is an environmental friendly plant and it also does not take the area of other crops. An olive tree starts production after three to four years of its plantation while its productive age lasts for a long period, revealed Dr Mohammad Tariq.

“If we only utilise one third of our available area for olive cultivation, we would not only stop the import of edible oil rather but could become one of the largest olive oil producers,” he said.

“Total world production of olive oil is 2.75 million tons and only one-third of Chakwal’s cultivated area “can produce 2 per cent of world olive oil that is 55,000 tons. Trees of olive laden with fruits at BARI are the proof that Potohar can be turned into Olive Valley easily. BARI has imported a machine from Italy to extract olive oil,” he informed.

To stop Pakistan’s import of edible oil, 2.37m hectares area is required for olive cultivation and for this task a hefty amount of budget is also needed. A single plant of olive yields 15 to 35kg as it depends upon varieties, ecosystem and care while oil content remains 18 to 22 per cent. 250 plants can be cultivated on a hectare and we can get 600 litres of olive oil from one hectare, maintained Dr. Tariq.

“The price of olive oil is Rs500 per litre and a farmer can earn Rs300,000 by growing olive on a hectare. Interestingly, the pickle of olive can give a huge profit to its producer as a farmer can earns Rs1176,000 by preparing 4,000kg of pickle from one hectare. The economic return of olive is very high and its cultivation can bring a revolution in the lives of poor farmers,” said Dr. Tariq.

He further informed that olive demands less care than that of other crops and its harvesting is also easy than that of other crops. The demand of olive oil is increasing day by day as it has great medicinal value, he added.