The government of Pakistan has launched a project called “Promotion of Olive Cultivation for Economic Development and Poverty Alleviation” with technical and financial support from Italy. Project organizers envision olive plantations spread across thousands of acres in the Pakistani regions of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and Baluchistan, which were identified as the most suitable for olive cultivation.
The research and promotional ground work for the project have begun under the charge of Barani Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) in Chakwal, Punjab. The director of BARI, Dr. Muhammad Tariq, briefed the Minister of Agriculture, Ahmed Ali Aulakh, about the institute’s ongoing research activities and efforts to promote olive cultivation in the country.
Tariq also met with International Olive Council (IOC) Executive Director Jean-Louis Barjol in Madrid recently where they agreed it would be worthwhile to inform the Pakistani authorities on the possibilities of Pakistan obtaining IOC “observer” status, according to the IOC website.
Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) will coordinate and supervise the olive cultivation project at a national level, in association with the researchers from BARI. Several agricultural scientists and economic analysts have emphasized the significance of olive cultivation for the agricultural economy of Pakistan. The state government of Punjab has already declared the Pothowar area “Olive Valley.”
Officials at PARC say the new initiative to promote olive cultivation in Pakistan will help generate better income for farmers in the country. Olive is a high-value agricultural product, which can also bring in the much-needed foreign exchange, if exported to other markets. Better economic realization from olive farming is likely to improve the socioeconomic conditions of the farmers in Pakistan and help reduce poverty in the rural regions.