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
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.

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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