Pakistan Plants More Olive Trees

Pakistan's olive plantation campaign continues with the planting of over three million saplings in two provinces.

Olive Cultivation at ARI Sariab
Mar 19, 2018 8:24 AM EDT
By Isabel Putinja
Olive Cultivation at ARI Sariab

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As part of a tree plant­ing cam­paign, 120,000 olive trees are being planted in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

Half of the new saplings to be planted were grown in nurs­eries on-site while the rest were imported from Italy. The olive plan­ta­tion will cover a total area of 14,000 acres (5,665 hectares) in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province in terms of area, which is located in the south-west of the coun­try.

The recent olive tree plant­ing drive is part of a cam­paign launched by the Pakistan Agriculture and Research Council (PARC), an agri­cul­tural research orga­ni­za­tion based in the cap­i­tal Islamabad.

The project is part of ongo­ing efforts to trans­form bar­ren land into cul­tivable plots and pro­mote the province’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor while intro­duc­ing alter­na­tive crops for local farm­ers. There are also plans to build a new olive oil mill in the provin­cial cap­i­tal Quetta.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan’s north­ern­most region, the gov­ern­ment of Gilgit-Baltistan has announced plans to plant three mil­lion olive trees within a period of three months as part of an envi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion project. Parts of this region have expe­ri­enced defor­esta­tion and neg­a­tive envi­ron­men­tal effects like soil ero­sion, land­slides and flash flood­ing. Under the super­vi­sion of the for­est and wildlife depart­ment, stu­dents of local schools and col­leges are being encour­aged to par­tic­i­pate in the drive by plant­ing olive trees.

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Pakistan is not a tra­di­tional olive-pro­duc­ing coun­try but a wild sub­species of the olive tree called olea cus­p­i­data does grow in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try. Since 1986 olive trees have been planted exper­i­men­tally, start­ing with a project funded by the Italian gov­ern­ment. Another gov­ern­ment project to plant over five mil­lion olive plants was unsuc­cess­ful when only one per­cent of the saplings sur­vived. However sub­se­quent plant­ing dri­ves have borne fruit.

Olive Cultivation at ARI Sariab

Similar projects imple­mented in sev­eral provinces through­out the coun­try aim to pro­mote olive cul­ti­va­tion and increase the pro­duc­tion of edi­ble oils. They have included train­ing pro­grams for local farm­ers in olive cul­ti­va­tion, pro­cess­ing and pest con­trol, and the set­ting up of oil extrac­tion mills.

The Pothwar region in the north­east­ern cor­ner of the coun­try is being devel­oped into an olive val­ley” after being iden­ti­fied as a region suit­able for olive cul­ti­va­tion because of its topog­ra­phy and cli­mate. Under a cur­rent five-year project run­ning until 2020 and also man­aged by PARC, 2.4 mil­lion olive trees are being planted there as a cash crop.

Olive oil is already pro­duced in Pakistan along with a num­ber of other prod­ucts for sale on the domes­tic mar­ket like olive jam, chut­ney, pick­les and olive-derived prod­ucts like olive syrup, olive vine­gar, olive sweets and olive tea.





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