The government in collaboration with other stakeholders and provincial governments will graft over 2 million wild olive trees during the current spring tree plantation drive to enhance the area under olive cultivation for increasing local output of edible oil. The aim of the initiative was to bring wild olive trees, which were standing over millions of acres into edible oil production and increase the income of rural farming communities and exploit the huge existing potential of olive production, said Dr Hassan Tariq, National Project Director Olive Cultivation Program in National Agriculture Research Center. Talking to APP here on Wednesday, he said that other objective of the initiative was to ensure the production of nutrient-filled hygienic edible oil by enhancing domestic output as well as reducing the reliance on the imported commodity, which is putting pressure on foreign exchange reserves. The government, he said, had also set a target to impart training to over 2,800 olive farmers and stakeholders during the tree plantation campaign for the current season for encouraging and developing olive farming in potential areas across the country. “During the current spring tree plantation drive about 47 training programmes would be organised in different areas to familiarise farmers with international best practices for olive cultivation,” he added. Meanwhile, he said that over 1.2 million olive plants will be planted during the current spring tree plantation campaign across the country for strengthening the national efforts to enhance the output of domestic edible oil for reducing reliance on the imported commodity and saving much-needed foreign exchange. In this regard, the olive plantation would be carried out over 8,900 acres across the country, besides the launch of a campaign on wild olive grafting across the four provinces, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to attain oil for local consumption, he added. So far, he said that the olive plantation had been completed over 40,400 acres, and about 8,900 acres of land would be brought under the olive plantation during the current spring plantation campaign, which will help to expand the area under olive production. Besides, the farmers would be trained on orchard management, and value addition of the olive to enhance their farm income, whereas they would also be introduced to the latest marketing techniques, labelling and branding, he added. Dr Tariq further informed that a national olive reference lab was also established for quality testing to ensure the safety and quality of the locally produced products including olive oil and other value-added products that would help to ensure a proper rate of return to growers.