Farmers like this one in Rajasthan, India could be cultivating olives soon under a plan to expand the production of table olives and olive oil in the northern state.

In India, they’re called Jaitun, and on the heels of what Agricultural Minister Prabhu Lal Saini has dubbed “encouraging results” from early yields, the olive crop has begun to draw a brighter spotlight in Rajasthan. As reported earlier this summer, a landmark collaboration between India and Israel to bring seven varieties of olive trees to the northern Indian state has proven promising, and now, India is ready to up the ante.

Committing to a larger investment in the crop, the state government is getting behind the effort through a massive increase in the amount of land that will be dedicated to olive tree cultivation and fruit and oil production. The existing 240 hectares (roughly 600 acres) will be expanded to a whopping 5,200 hectares in the coming months.

“Currently, olive cultivation is being undertaken in state-farm fields…as part of the Indo-Israel project,” said Saini to the Press Trust of India earlier this week. “We have decided to take (it) to farmers’ fields.” Growers are being provided with free plants as well as technical support and plans are underway to promote both oil-producing varieties and table olives.

With a goal of making Rajasthan the center for the olive trade in India and put the desert state on the international map for olive oil production through their established brand, “Raj Olive Oil,” the Indian government believes the success of the crop could significantly change the agro-economy of the state.

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