Photo credit: mckaysavage via Flickr/Creative Commons

India’s desert state of Rajasthan is set to promote olive cultivation in private farms starting February. Following successful field trials over a period of last three years in the government-owned farms, the state is now ready to expand the scope of olive cultivation by involving private farmers in the project with a buy-back arrangement.

The state has made plans for a cluster approach to promote olive cultivation in an area of about 300 hectares, says Mr. S.S. Sekhawat, the COO of Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Limited (ROCL). Six clusters of 50 hectares each will be formed in different districts of the state. Over the next three years, the state plans to expand the growth of olives exponentially by bringing about 5,000 hectares of land under olive cultivation.

India’s demand for olive oil is growing rapidly. As per the data provided by the Indian Olive Association, India’s olive oil imports have grown by 52 percent to 3,988 tons in 2010. Mr. Sekhawat says, “Cluster approach will help us provide free technical consultancy for the first three years, without any hassles.” ROCL plans to begin distribution of seedlings to private farmers from February, 2012 at a subsidized rate.

The interest of private farmers in olive cultivation has grown substantially in recent times. At the recent FarmTech 2011 agricultural fair organized by the Rajasthan Government in association with the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, knowhow on olive cultivation was the most sought after information among the private farmers.

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