Punjab Distributes Nearly Half a Million Olive Saplings to Local Farmers

Punjab's farmers have until tomorrow to submit their applications for free olive saplings.

Farm in Gilgit Baltistan, Northern Pakistan
Aug. 30, 2018
By Julie Al-Zoubi
Farm in Gilgit Baltistan, Northern Pakistan

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The Government of Punjab has announced they will pro­vide 473,500 olive saplings free to farm­ers as part of their five-year project to develop olive groves in the region’s Olive Valley.” To qual­ify for the saplings Farmers must meet cer­tain cri­te­ria and sub­mit their appli­ca­tions by the tomor­row.

The project aims to pro­mote local pro­duc­tion of olive oil and reduce the hefty import bills for edi­ble oils. The Barani Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) advo­cates cul­ti­vat­ing 250 trees per hectare of land with an expected olive oil yield of 600 liters. With the price of olive oil in Pakistan stand­ing at around Rs 500 ($4) per liter, farm­ers could bring in Rs 300,000 ($2,437) if they used a hectare of their land for grow­ing olives.

The Provincial Agriculture Department have laid down spe­cific rules and pro­ce­dures that farm­ers are required to com­ply with in order to qual­ify for the imported saplings. Farmers who have ade­quate irri­ga­tion facil­i­ties to nur­ture an olive grove and those who qual­ify for a 70 per­cent sub­sidy towards irri­ga­tion are in line to ben­e­fit from the free olive trees.

Over a mil­lion olive trees have already been planted in the Pothwar region of the Olive Valley, which spreads across; Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Jhelum, the Attock dis­trict of Potohar, Mianwali and Khushab, accord­ing to BARI.

Earlier this year 120,000 olive trees were planted in Pakistan’s south-west Balochistan province as part of a cam­paign launched by the Pakistan Agriculture and Research Council (PARC). Half of the saplings were reared in Pakistan and the remain­der were imported from Italy.

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Back in 2011, the gov­ern­ment of Punjab pre­pared a detailed plan for the pro­mo­tion of olive grow­ing in the region. The aim was to make Pakistan self-suf­fi­cient in olive oil by plant­ing new trees as well as graft­ing exist­ing wild olive vari­eties. Farmers were offered train­ing in mod­ern olive cul­ti­va­tion meth­ods and encour­aged to pro­duce olives by the agri­cul­tural depart­ment of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) in Punjab.

Pakistan took its first seri­ous steps into olive cul­ti­va­tion in 1986 with a project funded by the Italian gov­ern­ment. Subsequent olive grow­ing projects have had vary­ing degrees of suc­cess.

The Pothwar region in the north-east of Pakistan was ear­marked to become an Olive Valley” after its cli­mate and ter­rain were rec­og­nized as being suit­able for olive pro­duc­tion. Under a five-year plan ini­ti­ated by PARC, 2.4 mil­lion olive trees are sched­uled for plant­ing by 2020.





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