PRIME Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched the countrywide olive oil cultivation drive in Nowshera.
Speaking on the occasion, he said the country has immense potential of cultivating olive trees because of the suitable topography and favourable climate, adding this would prove a best investment in terms of earning valuable foreign exchange and ensuring food security.
Indeed currently, the country is passing through a silent revolution regarding olive oil production.
The enhanced focus on olive production is taking the country gradually towards self-reliance which will greatly help save $ 3 to $ 4 billion currently being spent on the import of edible oil.
Olive trees have reportedly been cultivated over 27,000 hectares of land across the country.
The plantation extends through Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Islamabad and Azad Kashmir.
Olive orchards in Punjab have reached the fruition stage especially the Pothohar region has great prospects of becoming the highest olive seed producer.
It is really heartening to note that live saplings are provided free of cost to the farmers of the region including Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Jhelum, Attock and Khushab districts in order to encourage them to cultivate more olive trees.
Furthermore, nine advanced oil extraction plants have also been installed to harness the increasing olive oil production on a commercial scale for farmers.
The oil extraction units have been installed under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) to promote olive cultivation to cater to domestic requirements.
Indeed these are positive developments that will provide the much needed impetus to the economy.
We will suggest that a special Olive Oil Council comprising the private sector should be established immediately to suggest policy measures for the promotion of olive oil as per the international standards.
Similarly, the government must also issue certifications for the marketing and branding of olive oil for the private sector.
Making fruit trees part of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami is a step in the right direction as it will not only help mitigate the effects of climate change but also entails great economic benefits for the growers and the country.