Italian Consul General in Karachi Danilo Giurdanella has said Italy is already assisting Pakistan in olive cultivation, processing of olives and extraction of extra-virgin olives in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, and now it is ready to help the Sindh government explore the possibility of olive cultivation in the province where land and climate is suitable.
“The Italian government is already cooperating in olive cultivation, processing of olive fruits and extraction of extra-virgin olive oil in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and we can also look into the possibility of growing olives in Sindh where suitable land and climate is available,” he said during a press conference in Karachi in connection with the launch of Italian Cuisine Week.
The Italian diplomat said they had learnt that wild olive species were present in some areas of Sindh, including Gorakh Hill and Kirthar Mountains, and that not only could these wild olive trees be used for the edible olive production through grafting, but olive cultivation could also be carried out in these areas for olive fruits.
“There is no reason why olives can’t be grown in the Sindh province. We are ready to explore this possibility and assist the local (provincial) government in this regard,” he said, adding that by utilising the unused lands for the olive cultivation, the provincial government and local farmers could improve their economic conditions.
To a query, he said Italian agricultural experts and food processing industry people could be invited to assist the authorities as they were already helping farmers in two other provinces in Pakistan.
Expressing his satisfaction over the growing cooperation between Italy and Pakistan in various areas, he said Italy was becoming a major export destination for Pakistani goods and services, and Pakistan had posted a trade surplus with Italy in 2019-20.
As opposed to the imports of $490 million, Pakistan’s exports to Italy amounted to $730 million in 2019-20. Italy is the fifth largest export destination for Pakistan within the European Union. Islamabad’s top exports to Italy include textiles, cereals, hides and skins and plastics. Its chief imports from Italy are ships, boats, machinery, pharmaceutical products, aircraft, chemicals and iron and steel.
Pakistani rice enjoys immense popularity in Italy, Danilo Giurdanella said, noting that its market share is 38 per cent. Pakistan exports about $62 million worth of rice to Italy every year.