LAHORE: Approximately nine million olive plants have already been planted under the Olive Valley Project started by the Punjab Department for Agriculture. The aim is to elevate Pakistan and make it one of the top 10 olive-producing countries in the world.
The agriculture department had chalked out a five-year plan to make the Potohar Region an Olive Valley. Under the project, the government would provide 200,000 free olive plants to selected farmers in Chakwal, Jhelum, Khushab and other districts.
A factory is also functional at Barani Agriculture Research Institute in Chakwal for extraction of olive oil.
Local agriculturalist Air Marshal (retd) Muhammad Ashfaq, who owns a 50-acre olive plantation told Express News that an olive plant starts giving fruit in five years. “No landlord can wait this long since there are options available, “he added. "The landlord can cultivate vegetables and fruits in olive orchards. I cultivate watermelon and other fruits in my olive orchards to meet my daily expenses." For the growth of olives in the province, the government has given a 70% subsidy on watering and cultivation, he said. The agriculturalist added that a 60% subsidy has also been given on the installation of drip irrigation systems.
Govt all set to make Potohar region olive valley
The agriculture department is all set to purchase olives so that farmers can immediately sell their produce.
Barani Agriculture Research Institute's Deputy Director and agriculturalist Azeem Tariq said that they were not only providing olive seeds to farmers free of charge but were also assisting them in technical matters such as the best time to water plants. According to agricultural experts, the import bill would reduce with the establishment of the olive valley and they would also be able to export olives.
In addition, oil-producing components are also being encouraged in Punjab. The government is providing a heavy subsidy and farmers are being directed towards the cultivation of oil-producing components.
Pakistan is an agricultural country, but processed oil worth Rs270 billion is imported. Therefore, in order to expand the growth of olives, it was decided in 2015 to convert Chakwal into a valley of groves.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2018.
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