RAWALPINDI – Pakistan can be self-sufficient in edible oil production if the Olive Valley set up by Punjab government in Potohar region is promoted on scientific lines, said the Ambassadors of various countries including Tunisia, Morroco, Kenya, Sudan, Nigeria and Mauritius during their visit to Barani Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) Chakwal.
The ambassadors were informed during a briefing about steps being taken to promote olive plantation in the country, particularly in Potohar region.
The ambassadors of Tunisia and Morocco showed great interest expressed their willingness to work jointly in collaboration with BARI in Olive sector.
The delegates also visited various technology sites and appreciated efforts of the Agri Department for transforming Potohar into Olive valley.
They also took keen interest to know how the water harvesting and water saving technologies being adopted in the region. The ambassadors appreciated the involvement of females and youth in various projects being carried out in the rain-fed areas.
They were informed that the Punjab agriculture department has chalked out a five-year plan for making Potohar Region an Olive Valley.
Under the project, the government would provide two million free olive plants to the selected farmers in Chakwal, Jhelum and other districts. Special steps under the directives of Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif were being taken for the promotion of olive crop in the province by the agriculture department.
A large number of growers were showing their keen interest in cultivation of olive crop and were contacting the agriculture department for obtaining olive plants and technical assistance regarding cultivation of the crop, the delegation was informed.
In Punjab, several areas including Jhelum and Chakwal were the potential areas for olive cultivation.
According to agriculture experts, the prevailing environment, temperature, soil types, average rainfall and other related growth factors in these areas were exactly according to the olive cultivation requirements.
The marginal lands could be utilised for olive cultivation without replacing other crops which would also help in reducing the import bill of the country.
The department was also conducting awareness and training programmes to facilitate the people by creating awareness on olive cultivation techniques and producing value added products.
Olive tree plantations has been completed across 3,166 acres in Potohar region to reduce dependence on edible oil imports and bring marginally agricultural land under cultivation. The eventual plan is to bring 15,000 acres of land under cultivation by planting more than two million olive saplings.
The Punjab government, in collaboration with international development partners and donor agencies, had initiated a five-year ‘olive valley project’ to enhance olive oil production.
In order to facilitate and incentivise olive growers, an extra virgin olive extraction plant has been installed to produce high quality olive oil. The plant has the capacity to process 500 kg oil per hour.