MULTAN, Dec 23 (APP):National Olive Project was launched at Suleman Mountain Range on Thursday to turn the mountainous area into an olive valley rich by millions of olive plants and generate employment opportunities for the tribal people.
Secretary Agriculture South Punjab Saqib Ali Ateel and Sardar Omar Khan Buzdar planted olive saplings at Basti Salari bringing the national olive project to south Punjab’s mountainous area, Koh-e-Suleman, according to an official release issued here.
Speaking on the occasion, the secretary said that practical steps were being taken to promote high value agriculture at Koh-e-Suleman that would be converted into olive valley like Potohar valley.
This modernized development in agriculture would bring prosperity to the tribal people, Saqib said.
He said that Koh-e-Suleman atmosphere and weather was most suitable for high value crops and that is why Punjab government was providing 90 per cent subsidy to farmers for production of olive, dates and citrus. He said that over a million olive plants would be planted. Moreover, already planted 5 million wild olive variety would be grafted to make them produce good quality olive oil, he added.
Saqib disclosed that efforts would also be made introduce facilities for olive processing, value addition, marketing and branding and to link local farmers with national and international markets. He said that olive project would improve earnings through exports. He said that farmers would also be provided 67 per cent subsidy for installation of drip irrigation system on 5000 acre of olive area.
Pakistan would be listed among the olive exporting countries within next few years, the secretary agriculture said.
Omar Khan Buzdar said that chief minister Sardar Usman Khan Buzdar had been taking practical steps to bring fruits of development to areas that had remained neglected in past adding that these areas would soon be at par with those already developed in the country.
Director National Olive Project Dr. Muhammad Tariq said that youth were being extended matching grants for preparation of different products from olive plants.
He disclosed that 10 million olive plants would be planted on 75000 acre area in the next three years.
He said that processing units and nurseries were also being set up. He said that Pakistan would soon be a member of International Olive Council and three certification laboratories were being set up for the purpose.
Director Arid Agriculture Research Institute Chakwal Rafiq Dogar said that olive oil extraction facility would be provided to farmers at subsidized price. He added that farmers were getting training at centre for Excellence for Olive Research and Training at Chakwal.
Director agriculture extension Mahr Abid Hussain and other officials were present.