ISLAMABAD: As the olive sector is developing fast, with about 18,600 hectares of land has been brought under olive cultivation across the country, Pakistan is launching a brand of olive oil to be known as ‘PakOlive’.

The Pakistan brand of olive oil will be launched at the two-day ‘National Gala’ at F-9 Park in Islamabad on Saturday to mark ‘World Olive Tree Day’. The Minister for National Food Security and Research Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik, and the Ambassador of Italy Andreas Ferrarese, will be the main speakers at the national gala.

Pakistan has been identified as a favourable country for olive cultivation, will soon become a member of the International Olive Council (IOC),and will be among the biggest olive-producing countries in the next few years.

The National Project Director of PakOlive, Dr Mohammad Tariq, will speak on the current scenario of olive sector in Pakistan, while the Project Coordinator of the ‘OliveCulure Project’ will explain the Italian involvement in enhancing the olive value chain in Pakistan. PakOlive is a project of the government, administered by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

According to Dr Mohammad Tariq, an estimated 110 tonnes of olive oil are being produced annually from 32 olive extraction units installed all over the country. Pakistan has almost 4 million hectares of uncultivated, poor-productive land that can be brought under olive cultivation, Dr Tariq said.

Achieving self-reliance in this potential area is one of the linchpins of the whole value chain. As a result, dependency on imported olive nursery plants has concluded due to project interventions in certified nursery raising techniques and demonstrating the improved infrastructure.

For enhanced profitability to the farmers and stakeholders, three value-added laboratories were established for olive product development and its demonstration at the Agricultural Research Institute, Peshawar, the Barani Agricultural Research Institute, Chakwal, and the Agricultural Research Institute, Balochistan. Consequently, more than 20 startup entrepreneurs in the olive sector have started trading various olive products in the market.

According to Dr Tariq, the olive sector is facingfour major challenges, which are crop-specific extension services, certified skilled technicians and manpower, machinery and equipment, and business advisory.

Pakistan is now moving towards establishing the Pakistan Olive Oil Council, an association for quality control, labeling, and good manufacturing practices; fostering partnerships in the emerging olive sector; and strengthening connections with international organisations like the International Olive Council.

Olive oil, also known as ‘liquid gold’, has many health benefits, and its consumption is linked to improved heart health, anti-inflammatory properties, weight management, and being high in antioxidants. Extra virgin olive oil has phenolic compounds that have chemo-therapeutic, anti-ageing, neuro-protective, and anti-rheumatic effects and prevent diabetes.

On the second day of the national gala, awards will be given to the top twenty progressive olive farmers and the three best scientists for best field performance. Olive stakeholders will set up stalls showcasing olive oil and olive products.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2023

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