Planting of Over 300,000 Olive Trees Underway in Pothohar, Pakistan

Under a five-year plan initiated in 2015, the agriculture department of Pakistan's Punjab province is providing two million olive saplings free of charge to farmers in the Pothohar region.

Jul. 28, 2016
By Isabel Putinja

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Under a five-year plan ini­ti­ated in 2015, the agri­cul­ture depart­ment of Pakistan’s Punjab province is pro­vid­ing two mil­lion olive saplings free of charge to farm­ers in the Pothohar region. The aim of the Olive Valley Project is to develop the region as an olive-grow­ing region and pro­mote domes­tic olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Pothohar (also often spelled Potohar, Pothwar, Potwar) is a large plateau region in north-east­ern Pakistan cov­er­ing an area of 8,592 square miles. It has been iden­ti­fied as suit­able for olive pro­duc­tion because of its favor­able cli­mate and ideal topog­ra­phy. The pro­posed plant­ing area cov­ers an area of 15,100 acres, where 2,038,500 olive saplings will even­tu­ally be planted under the five-year project run­ning until 2020.

The Barani Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) located in Punjab’s Chakwal dis­trict, Pakistan has already planted 337,500 olive trees in the region so far this year, while 48,600 were planted last year. The BARI web­site reveals that the mas­sive Olive Valley Project is not only pro­vid­ing olive saplings to local farm­ers, but also tech­ni­cal sup­port on olive grove man­age­ment and finan­cial sup­port for water resource devel­op­ment and drip irri­ga­tion.

The long-term objec­tives of the project are to pro­duce olive oil for export while cre­at­ing a sus­tain­able olive oil econ­omy which will also ben­e­fit the rural com­mu­ni­ties of the region. Pakistan presently pro­duces 34 per­cent of the edi­ble oils it con­sumes domes­ti­cally and is forced to spend sig­nif­i­cant for­eign exchange on the import of edi­ble oil to meet domes­tic demand.

In order to meet this demand, the Punjab gov­ern­ment is also work­ing on increas­ing the pro­duc­tion of sun­flower oil. Meanwhile, the export of high-qual­ity olive oil could gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant for­eign exchange earn­ings. The five-year Olive Valley Project is expected to gen­er­ate rev­enue of 858 mil­lion Pakistani Rupees ($8.2 mil­lion) in its ninth year, and a cumu­la­tive rev­enue of 39.1 bil­lion Pakistani Rupees ($373.7 mil­lion) over a 25-year period.

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