Asia

Pakistan Bets Big on Local Olive Oil Production

A new government project is providing support and training for olive growers and oil producers. The goal of Pak Olive is to boost Pakistan's fledgling olive oil industry from relative obscurity to international recognition.

Agriculture Research Institiute Sariab Quetta
Apr. 20, 2020
By Paolo DeAndreis
Agriculture Research Institiute Sariab Quetta

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Under the aus­pices of a new orga­ni­za­tion, Pak­istani olive oil pro­duc­ers are prepar­ing to enter the global mar­ket.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of trees have been planted in the last 10 years and most are now grow­ing in regions which experts con­sider to be well-suited for olive cul­ti­va­tion.

With the 2019/20 sea­son, the esti­mated olive oil pro­duc­tion capac­ity in Pak­istan will reach approx­i­mately 1,400 tons. By the year 2027, pro­duc­tion is expected to reach 16,000 tons.- Muham­mad Tariq, direc­tor of Pak Olive

With the help of sev­eral coun­tries and olive pro­duc­ers, Pak­istan is boost­ing its efforts to reduce depen­dency on for­eign edi­ble oils and become a new player in the olive oil world.

The newly-coined brand, Pak Olive, is the name and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion cho­sen by the gov­ern­ment to label the high-qual­ity olive oil com­ing from the pub­lic sec­tor.

See more: Olive Oil Pro­duc­tion News

A lab and a mobile unit for clin­i­cal and sen­sory test­ing of olive oil qual­ity is being set up for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion under the project.

The pri­vate sec­tor will be encour­aged and trained regard­ing reg­is­tra­tion and patent­ing of their brand with cer­ti­fi­ca­tion cover,” Muham­mad Tariq, the project’s direc­tor at the Min­istry of National Food Secu­rity and Research, told Olive Oil Times.

The estab­lish­ment of a Pak­istani olive oil coun­cil is also planned.

While cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is seen as a deci­sive step to bring Pak­istani olive oils to the atten­tion of inter­na­tional buy­ers, annu­ally-increas­ing pro­duc­tion is also help­ing to meet the coun­try’s domes­tic demand.

With the 2019/20 sea­son, the esti­mated olive oil pro­duc­tion capac­ity in Pak­istan will reach approx­i­mately 1,400 tons,” Tariq said. By the year 2027, pro­duc­tion is expected to reach 16,000 tons. Sub­se­quent tar­gets for olive plants will also be con­tin­ued in the com­ing years.”

Pak­istan began pro­duc­ing olive oil back in 2010, ben­e­fit­ing from strong agri­cul­tural coop­er­a­tion efforts with Italy and Spain as well as com­mer­cial coop­er­a­tion with China.

Thou­sands of trees were imported into the coun­try, together with experts who helped to iden­tify the most promis­ing areas for olive cul­ti­va­tion. Around 10 mil­lion acres have already been iden­ti­fied for grow­ing olives; areas in which the crop will not com­pete with other fruit trees, cereal or oilseed crops.

The indige­nous pro­duc­tion of olive nurs­ery plants is very lim­ited,” Tariq said. That is why the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is import­ing cer­ti­fied olive nurs­ery plants of dif­fer­ent vari­eties from var­i­ous coun­tries, both for oil and table olive pro­duc­tion.”

Tech­ni­cal assis­tance to the farm­ers for this new crop in terms of orchard man­age­ment, pro­cess­ing and nurs­ery pro­duc­tion is lack­ing at present, but it is pro­vided for under the project,” he added.

To be com­pet­i­tive in the inter­na­tional mar­ket, the project will also train work­ers on how to use mod­ern extrac­tion tech­niques in the mills.

Inter­est from farm­ers in grow­ing olives and pro­duc­ing oil is also grow­ing rapidly. This has partly been fos­tered by the spe­cial char­ac­ter­is­tics of the olive trees, which can sur­vive in dry and arid con­di­tions that are gen­er­ally inhos­pitable for other crops.

Pak­istani grow­ers are very keen to grow olive plan­ta­tions because they have very poor pro­duc­tion from other crops or have lands that are not cul­ti­vated but where olive trees could thrive,” Tariq said.

In addi­tion to being drought tol­er­ant, olive trees also require rel­a­tively low lev­els of invest­ment, com­pared to other crops, while still yield­ing a return, which has also increased inter­est in Pak­istan.

Fur­ther­more, the gov­ern­ment is actively work­ing with the farm­ers to get the groves going.

As the olive plan­ta­tion is being estab­lished on mar­ginal or degraded lands with poor farm­ers, con­se­quently they do not have ade­quate resources for ini­tial invest­ments, such as irri­ga­tion facil­i­ties, watch and ward,” Tariq said. There­fore, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is pro­vid­ing olive nurs­ery plants free of cost and drip irri­ga­tion sys­tems, as water-sav­ing tech­nol­ogy in this sec­tor.”

The Min­istry of Cli­mate Change is also plan­ning to aug­ment the present efforts, in terms of plant­ing, under the Bil­lion Tree Tsunami Project,” he added. More­over, a strong col­lab­o­ra­tion in the olive sec­tor with the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment sup­port is also under­way.”

Once new groves have been estab­lished and olive oil is being pressed annu­ally in the mod­ern mills, the next step for Pak Olive will be to gar­ner inter­na­tional inter­est for Pak­istani extra vir­gin olive oil.


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