Over 1.5 million olive plants have been planted under the promotion of olive cultivation project phase-II, across the country to strengthen the national efforts to enhance the output of domestic edible oil for reducing the reliance on the imported commodity as well as to save much-needed foreign exchange. Talking to APP, Promotion of Olive Cultivation project’s scientific officer Dr Waqas Cheema said that through this initiative, 75,000 acres of land mainly culturable waste in all provinces and autonomous regions of AJ&K and Gilgit Baltistan will be brought under olive cultivation. The government of Pakistan is committed to promoting olive cultivation and its value chain in Pakistan, he said. It is worth mentioning here that under the PSDP programme, a flagship project “Promotion of Olive cultivation on commercial Scale in Pakistan, Phase-II” is being implemented from 2021-22 for three years till 2023-24. “Despite shortages of funds under PSDP programme, we have brought 1100 acre under olive cultivation, through this flagship initiative. Special focus is given to the grafting of already present 5 million wild olives after a detailed survey and study and make it a fruitful economic asset for the farmers and country,” he added. Moreover, water saving technology such as Drip Irrigation System is also being installed along with olive plantation in areas with low water delta, he added. Though olive cultivation has continued in the country for the last decade in Pakistan, yet there are certain missing links or spaces in the value chain. For addressing the missing links, a new project was conceptualised for technical assistance to the Pakistani olive sector. Moreover, it is worth mentioning here that the government also imparting training through 47 programmes to around 2,800 farmers and olive stakeholders. In this connection over 1.2 million olive plantation is underway in a campaign across the country to strengthen the national efforts to meet the local edible oil consumption. In this regard, olive plantation would be carried out over 8,900 acres across the country, besides conducting a campaign on wild olive grafting across the four provinces including Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to attain oil for local consumption, said Dr. Hassan Tariq, National Project Director Olive Cultivation Programme. He told APP that so far olive plantation had been completed over 40,400 acres, and about 8,900 acres of land would be brought under olive cultivation during the current spring plantation campaign, which will help expand the area under olive production. Meanwhile, the government in collaboration with other stakeholders and provincial governments would graft over 2 million wild olive trees, he said, adding that wild olive trees standing over millions of acres were an untapped potential, which would be brought under olive production. Olive value chain will be strengthened by the provision of 500 pre and post harvesting tools on matching grants. Barani Agriculture Research Institute former director Azeem Tariq told APP that the government was providing best fruit processing units and olive oil extraction units along with storage, filling, and testing equipment on matching grants to farmers, stakeholders and entrepreneurs to promote the value chain and create employment opportunities for youths in the country. Therefore, Pakistan being in the early stages of olive value chain, needs standardization of olive oil and value-added products, he said. For the purpose, dedicate certification labs for the testing, quality control and further exports of olive commodities will be established in the country, Azeem added. The project envisaged that with these interventions, Pakistan will be in a better position in olive production and value chain globally, he concluded.