ISLAMABAD: Olive farming in Pakistan has received a strong boost with the arrival of 100,000 olive plants from Spain and Turkey.
The move is part of a project to promote cultivation of olive on commercial basis in the country.
A total of 550,000 plants will be imported under the project which is being implemented by the National Agricultural Centre.
Talking to Dawn, Project Director Dr Tariq Bari said on Wednesday that 150,000 more olive plants would reach the country next week while the remaining plants will be delivered later.
The project for the promotion of cultivation of olive on commercial basis has been approved under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). A fresh PC-1 has been submitted to the Planning Commission to widen the scope of the project to include areas which are best suited for olive cultivation.
Since olive is a drought-tolerant plant, it has been decided to introduce olive farming in Waziristan, Fata agencies and various districts of Balochistan which have been affected by the drought spell over the past few years.
Dr Bari said that a survey of the potential areas had been completed and it was found that these areas were best suited for olive plantation.
The olive cultivation will not only offer an ‘olive branch’ to peace in Fata, but will also serve as a source for livelihood of farmers in the entire Waziristan belt and agencies of Fata.
It has been estimated that 45 per cent of Fata land is suitable for olive cultivation. The highest appetite for cultivation of olive has been found in Bajaur followed by Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan.
According to Dr Bari, there are tremendous benefits for promoting commercial plantation of olive in Fata which include improvement in environment, development of village entrepreneurship, employment generation, improvement in livelihood and value-addition.
In Balochistan, the potential areas found suitable for olive cultivation were Zhob, Khuzdar, Loralai, Kila Saifullah and Musa Khel.
In some of these areas, results of growing olive crop have been encouraging that prompted project officials to include Balochistan in the programme.
It has been decided to install drip irrigation to olive plants on 400 acres of land in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019