Olive farmers in Pakistan are bullish about the future of olives in the country and have sought government assistance to scale up their olive and olive oil production to a commercial scale.
Valuing their fruits as a “cash crop”, the farmers have asked for government subsidies to install irrigation systems and mill their fruits.
Pakistan’s olive oil production Vs. consumption
According to Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants, Pakistan produces about 1,500 tons of olive oil per annum, all of which is destined for domestic consumption. Data shared by TrendEconomy, a trade database, shows Pakistan imported over €10 million of olive oil in 2020, the last year for which data are available.
An olive farmer’s success story
Considering the scope of Olive production in local and international markets, Pakistani farmers are replacing traditional crops, such as wheat and maize, with olives, Basit Shakeel Hashmi, a pioneering olive farmer from Punjab said. Basit had switched from traditional crops to olives.
He planted 18,000 olive trees on 100 hectares of land in his home district of Chakwal some six years ago, when the Punjab government started the olive cultivation program. Now, 90% of Hashmi’s olive trees are bearing fruit, and he sells his extra virgin olive oil for €18 per liter at the local market.
Dozens of other farmers in the region are also following in his footsteps and planting olives.
Officials convinced to end dependency on imported olive oil soon
Officials from the national program for the promotion of olives and farmers are convinced that the promotion of olive cultivation at a massive scale on barren land will end the country’s dependency on imported olive oil.
Muhammad Tariq, national project director, Ministry of National Food Security and Research is hopeful that with the massive scale cultivation of olives and olive oil production in the country, Pakistan will be able to meet its olive oil needs with local production in two to three years.
PTI government’s olive revolution
Pakistan’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project launched in 2014 by the PTI government has sparked a silent olive revolution in the country. As part of its olive cultivation initiative, which started in 2014, Pakistan plans to grow around 10 million olive trees across the country to not only become self-sufficient in olive oil production but also start its export as well.
Pakistan Joins International Olive Council
Pakistan, recently became the 19th member of the International Olive Council. The International Olive Council (IOC) members are mostly European and Middle Eastern nations located in the Mediterranean region and account for more than 98% of global olive production.
Welcoming Pakistan into the organization, the IOC executive director Mr. Abdellatif Ghedira, said “In Pakistan, olive oil culture is making inroads, and so are the opportunities related to that …..The council is a decisive player in contributing to the sustainable and responsible development of olive growing, and it serves as a world forum for discussing policymaking issues and tackling present and future challenges”.