`Another Olive Production Project in India - Olive Oil Times

Another Olive Production Project in India

May 26, 2011 9:57 AM EDT
Vikas Vij

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Following a suc­cess­ful olive cul­ti­va­tion project in the desert state of Rajasthan, India’s most eco­nom­i­cally vibrant state of Gujarat has turned its atten­tion to olive pro­duc­tion. The gov­ern­ment of Gujarat, with its rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most enter­pris­ing state gov­ern­ments in India, has funded a pilot project to grow olive trees in the state. The government’s eco­nomic advi­sors believe that olives can poten­tially trans­form the for­tunes of local farm­ers, con­sid­er­ing the large global demand for olive oil.

The project has been launched by the S.D. Agricultural University (SDAU) of Gujarat in col­lab­o­ra­tion with an Israeli firm, Asia Everest Limited (AEL). AEL has sup­plied 84,000 olive saplings of four east­ern Mediterranean vari­eties for the project. It plans to buy back the yield from this project at inter­na­tional prices. Work is also under­way to set up a pro­cess­ing plant in Gujarat within the next 18 months, which will pro­duce olive oil as well as other value added prod­ucts.

Dr. S.B.S. Tikka, the direc­tor of research at SDAU says that the saplings will be trans­planted at five dif­fer­ent loca­tions in the field dur­ing this mon­soon sea­son. Coratina, Barnea, Picholine and Manzanilla vari­eties of olives will be grown at these loca­tions spread over an area of 400 acres. These vari­eties require a hot cli­mate to pro­duce supe­rior qual­ity olives.

In the first phase of the project, which began last year, SDAU had allot­ted 200 acres of land to grow about 2,000 olive trees. On June 15, 2011 these trees will be shifted from the nurs­ery to the field, which will mark the com­ple­tion of the first phase of the project. The sec­ond phase includes edu­cat­ing the farm­ers through com­pre­hen­sive train­ing pro­grams sched­uled for June and July this year.

New pro­to­cols and tech­niques of tis­sue cul­ture are under devel­op­ment as a part of the project. The aim is to prop­a­gate veg­e­ta­tive cul­ti­va­tion of olives among Indian farm­ers. Several thou­sand farm­ers have vis­ited the olive farms already, and rich farm­ers have shown a keen desire to par­tic­i­pate in the project. The third and final phase of the project will focus on com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of olive and pro­mo­tion of olive oil exports from India.

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India has been wit­ness­ing a boom­ing demand for olive oil for the last five years. The annual con­sump­tion has been grow­ing at a rate of 30 per­cent, which is expected to rise fur­ther as the Indian econ­omy expands. According to the International Olive Council, a strong Indian econ­omy and the global expo­sure of Indians in recent years has led to an increased con­sump­tion of olive oil in urban India. By next year the annual demand is expected to touch 42,000 tons to feed the grow­ing appetite of the afflu­ent Indian con­sumer for healthy foods.



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