ISLAMABAD: The government has set a target to impart training to over 2,800 olive farmers and stakeholders during the tree plantation campaign for the current season for encouraging and developing olive farming in potential areas across the country.
“The aim of the initiative is to ensure the production of nutrient-filled hygienic edible oil by enhancing domestic output as well as reduce the reliance on the imported commodity, which is putting pressure on foreign exchange reserves,” said Dr Hassan Tariq, National Project Director Olive Cultivation Program in National Agriculture Research Center.
Talking to APP here on Friday, he said that during the current spring tree plantation drive about 47 training programmes would be organised in different areas to familiarise farmers with international best practices for olive cultivation.
Besides, the farmers would be trained on orchard management, and value addition of the olive to enhance their farm income, whereas they would also be introduced to the latest marketing techniques, labelling and branding, he added.
Meanwhile, a national olive reference lab was also established for quality testing to ensure the safety and quality of the locally produced products including olive oil and other value-added products that would help to ensure a proper rate of return to growers. Another regional lab would also be established during the current year, Dr Tariq informed, adding that a national conference would also be organised during the next month, to be attended by growers, experts, academia, and industrialists.
Meanwhile, he said that over 1.2 million olive plants will be planted during the current spring tree plantation campaign across the country for strengthening the national efforts to enhance the output of domestic edible oil for reducing reliance on the imported commodity and save much-needed foreign exchange.
In this regard, the olive plantation would be carried out over 8,900 acres across the country, besides the launch of a campaign on wild olive grafting across the four provinces, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to attain oil for local consumption, he added.
So far, he said that olive plantation had been completed over 40,400 acres, and about 8,900 acres of land would be brought under the olive plantation during the current spring plantation campaign, which will help to expand the area under olive production. The government in collaboration with other stakeholders and provincial governments would graft over 2 million wild olive trees, Dr Hassan said, adding that wild olive trees standing over millions of acres were an untapped potential, which would be brought under olive production.(APP)