`Commercial Olive Cultivation Begins in India - Olive Oil Times

Commercial Olive Cultivation Begins in India

By Vikas Vij
Dec. 15, 2011 08:38 UTC

Following the suc­cess of India’s first pilot project for olive cul­ti­va­tion in Rajasthan four years ago, the com­mer­cial cul­ti­va­tion of olives is all set to begin in this desert state of India. The progress of Rajasthan’s pilot project for olive cul­ti­va­tion had been closely watched by other agri­cul­tural states of India. Olive farm­ing brings with it a new promise of trans­form­ing the lives of poor Indian farm­ers, and pro­vid­ing a boost to the local econ­omy.

Next month, as parts of Rajasthan will grap­ple with sub-zero win­ter tem­per­a­tures, hun­dreds of large farm­ers in the state will plant olive saplings on their land for com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion. Surinder Singh Shekhawat, head of Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Limited (ROCL) that ran the pilot project, says: After the suc­cess of the pilot project, we have decided to rope in pro­gres­sive farm­ers for com­mer­cial cul­ti­va­tion. We will plant around 200,000 saplings across 650 hectares in Nagaur, Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Bikaner dis­tricts, where results were encour­ag­ing.“

Commercial cul­ti­va­tion of olive saplings will begin in January and February, and the total area to be cov­ered for olive plan­ta­tions is expected to go up to 5,000 hectares over the next three years. Large wheat farm­ers are flock­ing to ROCL’s office in Jaipur with a goal to shift a part of their cul­tivable land from wheat to olive. A num­ber of top olive oil man­u­fac­tur­ers in India have also shown inter­est in the com­mer­cial cul­ti­va­tion of olives, con­sid­er­ing the grow­ing demand for olive oil in the Indian mar­ket.

A local farmer in Rajasthan, the 35-year old Rajendra Singh Shekhawat sums up the cur­rent sen­ti­ment of farm­ers towards olive cul­ti­va­tion: I heard the olive pilot project went off well. I am ready to take the risk of cul­ti­vat­ing a for­eign crop. If all goes well in the com­ing three years, I will ded­i­cate more land to olives.” Olive cul­ti­va­tion is expected to fetch about five times the prof­its that the farm­ers in Rajasthan cur­rently fetch from wheat on a per hectare basis.


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