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Secretary general, (Federal) of the Businessmen Panel (BMP), Ahmad Jawad, has demanded the government to give incentives to the private sector on the import of plants of olives, so that farmer will get proper price of the produce.

He said olive trees cultivation an addition in the horticulture sector. It can reduce the dependency on the import of palm oil in coming years subject to proper mechanism of marketing.

There is no proper extraction units which could hammer its production.

He said the government had ambitious plans for increasing its olive production and it had the potential to take over Spain as the biggest producer of olives in the years to come under a project in Chakwal. The agriculture department of the Punjab had almost planted more than one million trees on an area of 3200 hectares and 750 farmers of the district benefited from it.

No doubt, country had more land suitable for olive cultivation than Spain, the largest producer in the world. We wanted to increase its olive production in a way to help its cash strapped economy. "Every year Pakistan imports olive oil worth US $2 billion, as country's economy depended on agriculture still more attention was needed to solve Pakistan's future crisis by taking new and revolutionary steps", he added.

Olive tree was not only a great carbon sinker but could also stop land erosion.

According to an expert, the olive plants would also mitigate the effects of climate change. "Pakistan has vast potential for olives produce.

Ahmad Jawad said the olive farming can be carried out in the country's areas, witnessing frequent droughts, frosts, heat waves and warming caused fire events. Because the olive trees grow well even with low water irrigation and are naturally capable to regenerate after being hit by frost, heat waves, fire incidents due to its marvellous regeneration capacity thanks to their dormant buds.

"Pakistan having almost 3.5 million hectares, suitable for tree plantation particularly olive grove" in the areas of Potohar area of Punjab and a few areas of Sindh. Similarly, in KP areas it has been estimated that 45 percent 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, while in Balochistan the potential areas found suitable for olive cultivation were Zhob, Khuzdar, Loralai, Kila Saifullah and Musa Khel.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020