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Italy to fund olive cultivation project              
By Amin Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: An area of over 800,000 hectares in 28 districts of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has been identified having great potential of growing olives, and if exploited this source will considerably reduce the country’s import bill for edible oils, officials said.

The identification of the huge potential was possible after the completion of a one-year project of ‘Promotion, production and commercialisation of olive oil in Pakistan,’ funded by the Italian government.

Under the project, which was implemented by Florence-based ‘Instituto Agronomic per l’Oltremare’ (IAO), a branch of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an olive oil extraction plant of 400-kg per hour capacity has also been commissioned at the Tarnab farm of Pakistan Oilseed Development Board (PODB) near Peshawar.

The success of the project has encouraged the Italian government to fund another project aimed at utilising the cultureable wastelands, forest lands and sub-mountainous areas for large-scale cultivation of olive.

The Rs382 million project Commercialisation and promotion of olive and olive products for economic development and poverty alleviation is in final stages of approval with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for onward submission to the Planning Commission for consideration by CDWP.

The IAO and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture will soon enter into a memorandum of understanding for collaboration in the identified areas of cooperation and launching the project in September.
 

 


The project to be funded under the Pakistani-Italian Debt Swap Agreement, also aims to strengthening partnership with private sector for olive cultivation and oil extraction through public-private partnership arrangements.

The Italian agricultural institute has appointed Mr Raffaele Del Cima as coordinator for the project in Pakistan. Speaking to newsmen at the residence of Italian ambassador here on Wednesday, Mr Cima estimated that one ton of oil can be extracted from olive trees spreading over one hectare of land.

Talking about the export of olive oil from Pakistan, Mr Cima stated that the foremost priority should be meeting the demand of olive oil within the country. Pakistani olive oil would find best market in China being a neighbour having land route.

Mr Cima disclosed that IAO was in the process of starting a technical assistance programme to support fruit and vegetable growers in the Swat valley that would help improvement of production and marketing in the horticultural value chain.

A delegation of IAO accompanied by Ambassador Vicintzo Parati held a meeting with the Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Mohammad Gondal to review the ongoing cooperation for olive production in Pakistan.

Ambassador Vicintzo Parati said that Italy is willing to help Pakistan achieve self-sufficiency in the oilseed production in the country.



Courtesy: The DAWN

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