Festivals and Conferences Build Momentum for Pakistani Olive Oil Sector

In the six months since Pakistan held its inaugural Olive Gala Festival, officials said trees were planted, partnerships formed and more events scheduled.
Networking at the Olive Gala Festival
By Wasim Shahzad
Sep. 6, 2023 12:34 UTC

Organizers of Pakistan’s inau­gural Olive Gala Festival, held in March, have hailed the event as a suc­cess.

Abdul Bari, the direc­tor gen­eral of the Agricultural Research Institute, Tarnab, told Olive Oil Times that in the six months since the event was held, 185 hectares of new olive groves have been planted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The suc­cess­ful Olive Gala Festival improved the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of the olive sec­tor. It high­lighted the sec­tor’s con­tri­bu­tions to the econ­omy, envi­ron­ment, and local com­mu­ni­ties, lead­ing to increased inter­est and sup­port.- Abdul Bari, direc­tor gen­eral, Agricultural Research Institute, Tarnab

Olive cul­ti­va­tion is viewed as a strate­gic crop for eco­nomic and secu­rity devel­op­ment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a north­west­ern province with a bor­der with Afghanistan.

Thousands of olive trees have been planted in the province since 2018, but 2,500 were dam­aged dur­ing last year’s fero­cious mon­soon sea­son.

See Also:Italy to Provide €1.5M to Develop Pakistani Olive Oil Sector

According to Bari, more than 800 peo­ple attended the event in Tarnab, about 100 kilo­me­ters west of Islamabad, includ­ing farm­ers, food proces­sors, mem­bers of acad­e­mia, gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the gen­eral pub­lic.

In the six months since the gala was held, Bari said there was a notice­able increase in inter­est sur­round­ing olive oil from the gen­eral pub­lic and increased invest­ments made by olive farm­ers in new har­vest­ing and prun­ing equip­ment.

Among the gen­eral pub­lic, it cre­ated aware­ness about the ben­e­fits of olive oil use and var­i­ous value-added prod­ucts,” he said. Farmers are tak­ing an inter­est in includ­ing olives in their value-added prod­ucts.”

Hosted by the Agricultural Research Institute, Tarnab, the event was the first of its kind in Pakistan. It high­lighted the country’s progress in devel­op­ing its olive farm­ing sec­tor and prospects.


Developing the olive oil sector is seen as a way to foster stability to the Pakistani border province.

The insti­tute has played a piv­otal role in the progress of the olive sec­tor and is respon­si­ble for exe­cut­ing a project to pro­mote olive cul­ti­va­tion and develop com­mer­cial olive oil pro­duc­tion in Pakistan, which Bari said can help the coun­try mit­i­gate the severe eco­nomic cri­sis it cur­rently faces.

In 2021, Pakistan imported $8.07 mil­lion (€6.83 mil­lion) of pure olive oil, becom­ing the 64th largest importer in the world,” he said. If this area (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) is brought under olive cul­ti­va­tion, it will not only ful­fill the domes­tic require­ment of olive oil but will also gen­er­ate income through the export of olive oil.”

In addi­tion, mil­lions of wild olives are grow­ing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and newly merged dis­tricts, which can be suc­cess­fully con­verted into oil-bear­ing species through bud­ding and graft­ing,” he added.

Pakistan has immense olive cul­ti­va­tion poten­tial due to its diverse cli­mate and fer­tile val­leys. Bari said the gala was a stride for­ward in har­ness­ing the untapped poten­tial of the olive sec­tor.

The events like the Olive Gala Festival raise aware­ness about the olive sec­tor’s poten­tial, high­light­ing the steps already taken towards its devel­op­ment among the com­mu­nity,” Bari said, not­ing that inter­est in the event had resulted in two fol­low-ups held in June focused on olive farm­ing best prac­tices.

It can edu­cate farm­ers about the ben­e­fits of olive cul­ti­va­tion, pro­cess­ing and con­sump­tion, as well as the progress made in research, tech­nol­ogy and best prac­tices,” he said.

This type of event can show­case the achieve­ments and suc­cess sto­ries within the olive sec­tor,” Bari added. This can include shar­ing data on increased olive cul­ti­va­tion, improved yields, bet­ter qual­ity olive oil pro­duc­tion, and enhanced liveli­hoods for farm­ers involved in olive cul­ti­va­tion and value chain.”


The Olive Gala Festival gave growers the opportunity to make deals with millers and food processors.

While not­ing that no large-scale part­ner­ships have been reached since the event was held, Bari said the gala suc­ceeded as a net­work­ing event with numer­ous reports of small farm­ers con­nect­ing with millers for the upcom­ing har­vest and poten­tial buy­ers for table olives.

The event also allowed olive farm­ers to meet researchers from local and other national uni­ver­si­ties, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, investors and indus­try experts.


This engage­ment can lead to dis­cus­sions on strate­gies for fur­ther devel­op­ing the sec­tor, address­ing chal­lenges, and iden­ti­fy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties,” Bari said.

Positive con­nec­tions were made between olive grow­ers, proces­sors and poten­tial buy­ers, both domes­ti­cally and inter­na­tion­ally, through this event, which will help open up new mar­kets for Pakistani olive prod­ucts, encour­ag­ing com­mer­cial-scale cul­ti­va­tion,” he added.

While the gala brought together many stake­hold­ers from within the sec­tor, its influ­ence extended far beyond the con­fines of the fes­ti­val grounds. The event res­onated through the media, cap­ti­vat­ing the atten­tion of local, national and even inter­na­tional news out­lets.

Bari said the exten­sive cov­er­age helped reach a broader audi­ence, and the fes­ti­val’s objec­tives, achieve­ments and poten­tial were brought to the fore­front of pub­lic aware­ness.

The suc­cess­ful Olive Gala Festival improved the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of the olive sec­tor,” he said. It high­lighted the sec­tor’s con­tri­bu­tions to the econ­omy, envi­ron­ment, and local com­mu­ni­ties, lead­ing to increased inter­est and sup­port.”


Bari said the events have generated lasting interest in olive oil from the general public.

Festivals and other events can attract media cov­er­age, lead­ing to increased media atten­tion on the olive sec­tor’s devel­op­ment,” he added. Positive media cov­er­age can cre­ate a rip­ple effect by reach­ing a broader audi­ence.”

Bari said inter­est from the gala had spilled over into a two-day olive cul­ti­va­tion project held in June at Hazara University Mansehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He and local farm­ers are look­ing for­ward to a series of September events in the province across Pakistan’s other olive-grow­ing regions with an eye on the upcom­ing har­vest.

Agriculture Research Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is com­mit­ted to devel­op­ing the olive sec­tor in the province,” Bari said. Our direc­torate is pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal sup­port to the farm­ers to enhance pro­duc­tion of olive plan­ta­tion and pro­duc­tion in the province.”

In future pieces of train­ing, field days, and other such events will be arranged for the pro­mo­tion of olive and its value-added prod­ucts and to edu­cate farm­ers about the ben­e­fits of olive cul­ti­va­tion, pro­cess­ing and con­sump­tion as well as the progress made in terms of research, tech­nol­ogy and best prac­tices,” he added.

An ideal busi­ness oppor­tu­nity exists for small farm­ers, includ­ing women, to invest in the prepa­ra­tion and mar­ket­ing of olive value-added prod­ucts, includ­ing olive pick­les, bis­cuits, cakes and tea,” he con­cluded.


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