NOWSHERA: Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has said that largescale olive cultivation would prove as the best investment for Pakistan in terms of earning valuable foreign exchange and ensuring food security.
Addressing at the launch of a countrywide olive cultivation drive starting from Nowshera district on Monday, the prime minister said that Pakistan has more potential than Spain, the leading olive producer in the world, and could explore the possibilities with an effective cultivation strategy.
“Pakistan has immense potential for olive cultivation, owing to suitable topography and climate. Water scarce areas such as Suleiman Mountains near Waziristan, Balochistan’s plains and Punjab’s diverse terrain offered an environment for low-irrigation olive farming,” he added.
Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister (CM) Mehmood Khan, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam and senior officials were present.
He said that the plantation could also solve the big challenge of food security as olives produce edible oil of high nutritional value, which could be used to meet local demands besides its export,
Additionally, he said the project would also generate employment opportunities for the locals, both short and long-term, due to the long life of the plant.
The prime minister said the project was being carried out under the Ten Billion Tsunami Tree project, while other local fruits would be also be included in the programme later.
Reminding that Pakistan was among the 10 most vulnerable countries on the verge of experiencing high effects of climate change, the premier said that the country was blessed with 12 climatic zones and a diverse landscape, stressing the need to promote the planation of a variety of crops and fruit.
“Plantation is the key step to reduce rising pollution levels in big cities of the country if we wish to save future generations from climate change,” he added.
Speaking about the Miyawaki Japanese technique, recently launched at several sites in Lahore and Islamabad to achieve dense greenery at a faster than usual pace, he directed the Forest Department to use a similar plantation method in Peshawar as the city reports alarming levels of pollution.
Earlier, PM Imran Khan planted an olive sapling at the model plantation site of Amangarh in Nowshera, where the cultivation of around 7,200 olive plants will be carried out.
According to official details, the expected economic return of four million grafted olive plants in the sixth year will be around Rs10.8 billion annually, with a total income of Rs54 bn after 10 years.
The production in the sixth year will be approximately 7.2 million litres with average fruit production per plant at 15 kg.