In Pakistan, Efforts to Grow Olives in Underdeveloped Areas Begin to Bear Fruit

Under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project, Pakistan is growing thousands of olive trees in its northwestern region, a former hotbed for terrorism after 9/11.
Feb. 28, 2022
Rahool Basharat

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Under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project, Pakistan is grow­ing thou­sands of olive trees in its north­west­ern region – once con­sid­ered a hotbed for ter­ror­ism activ­ity.

The South Asian country’s north­west­ern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bor­ders Afghanistan and has been on the front­line of the Global War on Terrorism for decades.

About 112,000 liters of olive oil will be pro­duced annu­ally from this area after the plants started fruit pro­duc­tion.- Tariq Khadim, Peshawar Divisional Forest Officer

The Pakistani gov­ern­ment claims that 83,000 peo­ple have died due to the insur­gency in Afghanistan and mil­i­tary oper­a­tions con­ducted in the tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

However, after the fed­eral gov­ern­ment launched the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project in 2018, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province admin­is­tra­tion decided to plant thou­sands of olives as a sym­bol of peace in the region.

See Also:Pakistan Set to Become Olive Council Member

The provin­cial government’s forestry depart­ment has planted around 8,000 olive trees in Amangarh, a vast area of the coun­try with lit­tle agri­cul­tural activ­ity located around 40 kilo­me­ters north­east of the his­toric city of Peshawar.

Pakistan’s fed­eral Ministry of Climate Change also launched the Olive Trees Tsunami Project in 2021, intend­ing to plant four mil­lion hectares of olive trees.

After declar­ing the country’s land and cli­mate suit­able for olive tree cul­ti­va­tion, the min­istry decided to plant trees in the south­ern region of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, tribal areas and north­ern parts of the province Punjab.

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Naran Valley, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

The Peshawar Divisional Forest Officer Tariq Khadim, look­ing after the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project in the province, told Olive Oil Times that 8,000 olive trees had been planted on 27 hectares of land.

All of the trees were sourced from the local nurs­ery of the for­est depart­ment, Khadim said.

He added that 2,000 hectares of bar­ren land were allo­cated for a dif­fer­ent plan­ta­tion under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project. The for­est depart­ment sep­a­rated 27 hectares for olives as the land was suit­able for plant­ing them.

Khadim said though the ter­rain was suit­able for olive grow­ing, less rain­fall and low under­ground water level emerged as a chal­lenge to water the olive saplings.

He said the for­est depart­ment in this area installed 10 solar pan­els, estab­lished tube wells and set drip irri­ga­tion sys­tem to water the olive saplings.

A 16,000-foot (4,900-meter) water pipe has been used for drip irri­ga­tion and smooth sup­ply of water for olive saplings,” he said.

The for­est offi­cer added that more than 95 per­cent of olive trees had grown suc­cess­fully in the last two years.

Khadim added that these trees would bear an aver­age of 110 kilo­grams of fruit each after four to five years, result­ing in the aver­age pro­duc­tion of 12 liters of olive oil.

About 112,000 liters of olive oil will be pro­duced annu­ally from this area after the plants started fruit pro­duc­tion,” Khadim said.

Tahir Malik, a pro­fes­sor at the National University of Modern Languages, viewed plant­ing olives in the north­west­ern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a pos­i­tive step after the Global War on Terrorism.

People in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province suf­fered most in the coun­try dur­ing the 20-year war in Afghanistan as they were on the front­lines when sui­cide bomb­ings inci­dents were tak­ing place from 2008 to 2013,” he said.

According to Malik, the con­flict had severely neg­a­tive psy­cho­log­i­cal effects on peo­ple liv­ing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tar­nished the region’s rep­u­ta­tion world­wide.

He said that grow­ing olives in the region would cre­ate a more favor­able polit­i­cal nar­ra­tive for the peo­ple and the region.

It will reflect that peo­ple of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa want peace, not bombs,” he said.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an inter­na­tional body with the man­date of mon­i­tor­ing dif­fer­ent projects of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project, has approved the plan to plant olive trees in the region.

Hammad Saeed, the organization’s project man­ager in Pakistan, said the plan­ta­tions under the project had brought pos­i­tive impacts for Pakistan.

It has increased the for­est cover area and gen­er­ated the eco­nomic activ­ity as well,” he said.

Saeed added that it was espe­cially good to see a coun­try already severely impacted by the effects of cli­mate change tak­ing seri­ous steps in its mit­i­ga­tion.


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