CHAKWAL: The Punjab government will be planting two million olive trees over the next five years in the five districts of Potohar.
During the inauguration of an event for the distribution of plants among farmers on Friday, Barani Agriculture Research Institute (Bari) Director Dr Mohammad Tariq said the project will start soon after Eid.
As many as 300,000 olive trees will be planted in the region during 2016-17 and that work on the campaign has been going on since 1991.
“After extensive research, we have selected 16 species of olives which are commercially productive to be planted in Potohar. Some of these are better than those found in Italy and Spain in taste and oil production because our soil is rich and our climate suitable for olive cultivation,” he said.
16 species of olives selected for plantation after extensive research
He said that Chakwal was ahead of Attock, Jhelum, Rawalpindi and Khushab in terms of olive cultivation and that 40pc of the olive trees planted last year were in Chakwal.
He said that the institute has received applications for the cultivation of olives on 24,000 acres, 15,000 of which is in Chakwal.
“Olives are drought tolerant and the dry weather is very suitable for it. They must be cultivated in August-September and February-March. They take four to five years to bear fruit,” he said. “A farmer can earn about Rs450,000 by planting olive trees on just an acre of land,” he added.
He urged farmers to plant olives and that they can also be planted on waste land too.
District Coordination Officer (DCO) Mehmood Javed Bhatti, who was the chief guest at the event, said Chakwal will soon have many olive-related products to offer.
“The district has huge potential for olive and grape production and many farmers in the district are taking an interest in planting these,” he said.
The DCO also planted an olive plant at Bari. A farmer at the event, Yousuf Khan, also spoke at the event and said he had earned Rs150,000 from planting cultivating olives on just an acre of barren land.
Published in Dawn September 10th, 2016