India’s agro-based state of Punjab, also known as the ‘granary of India’ has chalked out a comprehensive plan to introduce olive cultivation across the state in a major way. The goal is to boost crop diversification, and a decision to grow olive plantations was announced by the official spokesperson of the Punjab government.
The state government has already approved a pilot project for olive cultivation following a presentation by a private company and Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Ltd. (ROCL) before the state’s chief minister, Prakash Singh Badal. The state’s deputy chief minister said: “The concept of olive cultivation will have two benefits: one the extensive health benefits of olives, and second that farmers can juggle between diversified crops.”
Surinder Singh Shekhawat, Deputy Director of Rajasthan Agricultural Competitive Project, spoke about the prospects of Punjab as an olive producing state: “If a desert state (like Rajasthan in India) can grow (olives), Punjab will reap bigger benefits. The promise of olives is attracting leading olive oil manufacturers to tap India’s growing demand for healthy cooking oil.”
Punjab’s financial commissioner for development, G.S. Sandhu, has been given the task to draft a detailed policy to provide subsidy to the farmers interested in olive cultivation. Sandhu says, “At present, almost 100 percent of olive oil is imported. This will save the foreign exchange as worldwide there are only few areas which are suitable for olive cultivation.”
Many olive cultivation experts already believe that the climatic conditions of Punjab are aptly suited for the cultivation of high yielding varieties of olives.