ISLAMABAD: Under a five-year plan initiated in 2015, the agriculture department of Punjab
province is providing two million olive saplings free of charge to farmers in the Pothohar region.
The aim of the Olive Valley Project is to develop the region as an olive-growing region and
promote domestic olive oil production.
Pothohar (also often spelled Potohar, Pothwar, Potwar) is a large plateau region in north-eastern
Pakistan covering an area of 8,592 square miles. It has been identified as suitable for olive
production because of its favorable climate and ideal topography. The proposed planting area
covers an area of 15,100 acres, where 2,038,500 olive saplings will eventually be planted under
the five-year project running until 2020.
The Barani Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) located in Punjabs Chakwal district, Pakistan
has already planted 337,500 olive trees in the region so far this year, while 48,600 were planted
last year. The BARI website reveals that the massive Olive Valley Project is not only providing
olive saplings to local farmers, but also technical support on olive grove management and
financial support for water resource development and drip irrigation.
The long-term objectives of the project are to produce olive oil for export while creating a
sustainable olive oil economy which will also benefit the rural communities of the region.
Pakistan presently produces 34 percent of the edible oils it consumes domestically and is forced
to spend significant foreign exchange on the import of edible oil to meet domestic demand.
In order to meet this demand, the Punjab government is also working on increasing the
production of sunflower oil. Meanwhile, the export of high-quality olive oil could generate
significant foreign exchange earnings. The five-year Olive Valley Project is expected to generate
revenue of Rs 858 million ($8.2 million) in its ninth year, and a cumulative revenue of Rs. 39.1
billion ($373.7 million) over a 25-year period.