ISLAMABAD – The Ministry of National Food Security and Research has formed ‘Olive Advisory Council’ in order to address the bottlenecks in olive value addition as well as to promote olive cultivation across the country to exploit the existing production potential.
The advisory council would be comprising of the representatives from chambers of commerce, Pakistan Business Council, members of academia, researchers and progressive growers that would provide their input for the formulation of appropriate mechanism to enhance output of the commodity, said Dr Ahmad Tariq, National Project Director of Olive Cultivation.
Talking to APP here, he said that the government was also forming the Olive Oil Council, which would also look into the matters relating to quality, standards and certification, besides providing guidelines for policy formulation.
He said that the Italian government had provided Euros 1.5 million for this project which would be completed during 26 months, besides it was also providing technical assistance to develop olive value chain, promoting its cultivation to produce quality, nutrient filled healthy olive oil for domestic consumption. We have hired the Italian experts, who would also help in policy formulation and value chain development to ensure the quality and standards of local produce in domestic markets as well as enabling it to compete in international markets to fetch their shares, he added.
Dr Tariq further informed that the government has embarked upon another project to encourage olive cultivation across the potential areas with grafting of wild olive trees spread over thousands of hectares, adding that it would help to enhance the income of the farmers of rural areas.
In this regard the government has launched a pilot project of wild olive trees grafting in different areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, erstwhile FATA, Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Potohar Region to exploit huge existing potential of olive cultivation. Initially, the grafting would be done over 500,000 wild olive trees in the above mentioned areas, besides providing essential training to farmers of these areas to enhance their farm income, besides fulfilling their household requirements.
Besides, the government in collaboration with Italian government has also initiated Olive Culture Project to improve the regulatory framework, quality of locally produced products to encourage its output as well as to exports.
He said that under the project, the Italian experts were providing special training to promote olive cultivation, besides oil extraction fulfilling the international standards and quality, adding that by meeting these standards, locally produced olive oil would get international recognition and enhance its exports.
Dr Tariq said that work on olive value chain and value addition was also gaining momentum in the country and different projects were completed with public-private partnership to enhance the income of local farmers, particularly small scale growers across the country.
He said so far, olive cultivation was completed over 40,000 hectares and it was gaining momentum due to its demand locally as well as its exports scope, adding that promotion in olive production would also help to address the health hazards by ensuring the supply of quality edible oil. to domestic consumption.
It may be recalled here that the country imported over 2.802 million tons of palm oil costing $3.549 billion to tackle its local needs, besides importing about 143,539 metric tons of soyabean oil valuing $197.156 million during fiscal year 2022 as compared to the imports of the corresponding period of last year.