NOWSHERA: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said largescale olive cultivation would prove a best investment for Pakistan in terms of earning valuable foreign exchange and ensuring food security.
Addressing at the launch of countrywide olive cultivation drive starting from Nowshera district, the Prime Minister said the country had immense potential in cultivation of olive trees owing to suitable topography and climate from north to south.
He mentioned that water scarce areas such as Suleiman Mountains near Waziristan, Balochistan’s plains and Punjab’s diverse terrain offered environment for low-irrigation olive farming. The government launched the countrywide olive cultivation drive owing to the high yield potential of the ‘wonder fruit’.
Prime Minister Imran Khan terming food security a big challenge for the country said the olive fruit produced edible oil of high nutritional value, which could also be used to meet local demands besides its export.
He said Pakistan had more potential than Spain, the leading olive producer in the world, and could explore the possibilities with effective strategy of olive cultivation. He said the country was blessed with 12 climatic zones and diverse landscape and stressed the need to promote planting a variety of crops and fruit.
Imran Khan said olive was also mentioned in the Holy Quran for several times that enhanced the relevance and significance of the ‘wonder fruit’. He said olive cultivation project would generate employment opportunities for the locals, both short and long-term, due to long life of the plant.
The Prime Minister said olive cultivation was being carried out under Ten Billion Tsunami Tree project, adding that plantation of other local fruits would be also be included in the programme. He said that Pakistan was among the 10 most vulnerable countries on the verge of receiving high effects of climate change.
He said to save future generations from climate change, plantation was the key step and also to reduce rising pollution levels in big cities of the country. He mentioned the already launched Miyawaki Japanese technique at several sites in Lahore and Islamabad with an objective to get dense greenery at faster than usual pace.
He asked the head of Forest Department to use the similar plantation method in Peshawar as the city touched alarming levels of pollution. The Prime Minister lauded the efforts of Governor Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Shah Farman for materializing the Ten Billion Tree Project across the province.
Earlier, Imran Khan planted a sapling of olive at model plantation site of Amangarh in Nowshera, where a cultivation of around 7,200 olive plants will be carried out.The Prime Minister visited the cultivation area, where he was given a briefing about potential of olive plantation on the occasion.
Governor Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam and senior officials were present.According to official details, the expected economic return of four million grafted olive plants on sixth year will be around Rs 10.8 billion annually with a total income of Rs 54 billion after 10 years. The olive oil production on sixth year will be approximately 7.2 million litres with average fruit production per plant at 15 kg.