Mar 22, 2010

Olive cultivation in NWFP

Pakistan has been gifted with natural climate and soil for olive plantation

By Tahir Ali

The frontier province and the tribal belt have a vast potential for olive production. Realisation of this potential can cater to Pakistan's edible oil requirements. Sustained and well-directed efforts will have to be taken in this direction.

Pakistan Oilseed Development Board (PODB) has been trying to achieve this goal by seeking conversion of fruitless wild olive to fruit-bearing species and by cultivation of new olive plants. But as it remained dormant for around 15 years, it is still a long way to go to tap the full potential. The gigantic task would be accomplished sooner if an increased public-private partnership is ensured.

Olive cultivation has not been on the priority list of successive governments. Private sector has not paid heed to this sector. The emphasis has been more on the traditional sources of edible oil. The problem of law and order in NWFP and tribal belt are some of the reasons why olive cultivation and olive oil production has been neglected.

There are about 50 million wild olive trees, namely the olea feruginea and olea cuspidata species, are believed to be present in the country. They are mostly grown in NWFP and FATA. Italy, one of the world's prime olive producers with 1.2 million hectares under olive cultivation, is helping Pakistan to convert its barren wild olive groves into fruit-bearers, establish new olive plantations and give birth to a new industry in olive oil production.

The Italian ambassador to Pakistan has recently acknowledged that Pakistan has been gifted with natural climate and soil for olive plantation in NWFP and Potohar region. According to Mushtaq Ahmed, provincial director of PODB NWFP, at present more than 45 million established wild olive trees are there in the country. "NWFP and FATA house over 31mn of these trees. These trees can easily be brought into oilseed production by converting them into European type olive through budding/grafting procedure."

Ahmad says PODB has so far successfully converted 7.5 million out of the target of 8mn olive plants into the European type. "Out of these, 4mn plants have been converted in NWFP alone while the rest were converted in Balochistan and Punjab," he says.

Conversion of the remaining 26mn wild olive trees in NWFP and FATA in the next few years should be foremost priority of the government as it will help produce an estimated 75,000 tonnes of olive oil, saving about $1.5bn annually.

According to experts, Batagram. Kohistan, Swat, Dir, Malakand, Buner, Swabi, Mardan, Abbotabad, Haripur, Bannu, Kohat, Karak and Hangu in NWFP and sixty percent of FATA is suitable for cultivable olive production and wild olive species. According to official figures, over 46 percent and 38 percent of the total area in Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies and 23, 15, and 21 percent of the North/South Waziristan and Kurram agencies respectively is suitable for olive production.

A study conducted by an Italian expert, Raffaele Del Cima, who is also project officer for Italian government's olive oil promotion scheme, reveals that NWFP and Balochistan have plenty of cultivable land in at least 14 districts suitable for olive cultivation. Out of these 668,278 hectares, 444,574 hectares are situated in NWFP, the study finds. According to another estimate, over 880,000 hectares of wasteland is ripe for olive cultivation.

If the above cultivable land is utilised for olive cultivation, it will increase income of the farmers, help eradicate poverty, and save precious foreign exchange for the country. Besides the existing oilseed crops, if the country targets the potential olive and palm oil plants for oil production and they are established in their proper habitats, Pakistan can become an exporting country within a span 10-15 years.

"Availability of vast uncultivated and cultivable area in the high rainfall zone of the country, conducive temperature for olive production, presence of suitable soil texture and structure, low production cost and high output with abundant cheap labour force, etc., are some of the factors that speak of a good future for the sector," says Ahmad.

According to the official, PODB intends to bring over two million acres of land under olive cultivation and plant around 220 million trees in the next ten years. "It will produce about 2mn tonnes of edible oil, saving and earning billions of dollars annually for the country."

PODB was also asked to produce 0.300 million olive saplings. "Out of it 0.227 million olive plants have been produced and distributed among the farmers. PODB also trained 668 army personnel, NGO workers, and progressive growers for this purpose. Besides, 364 acres orchards were established by PODB in NWFP at Tarnab, Sangbhatti, Pirsabak, Turu Khass and Khawoo. An olive model farm for research and development has also been established in Mardan where about 17000 to 18000 olive plants have been developed on 150 acres area," Ahmad adds.

He says plants that have been converted have started growing successfully. "Oil extraction has been started and will soon be commercialised. For this purpose, PODB has installed two olive oil extraction units in FATA and NWFP. These plants are movable and provide oil extraction facility to the farmers at their doorsteps. Within a few years, the commercial production will be started from different locations of Public and Private Sector," says the official.

In order to improve production technology in the olive sector and to conduct various research works on different aspects of olive tree, a project titled "Development of Olive Model Farm for Olive Research and Development Activities" was launched in July 2008 to produce 10,000 numbers of certified olive saplings. "This will make available certified olive plants to the farming community on reasonable price. The project will facilitate farming community for cost-effective olive production thus increasing their profitability. It will also assist to create self employment in the rural areas," informs Ahmad.

Pakistan faces a huge gap between edible oil requirements and domestic production -- the total edible oil requirements stood at 2.820 million tonnes last year but local production was only 0.684MT. Rest of the requirement was met through import of edible oil and oilseed worth over $2 billion. This import bill can be curtailed by a huge margin if the required quantity of edible oil is produced through vertical and horizontal increase in oil-seeds, particularly olive trees.

By providing quality seed, modern training, and providing marketing mechanism to olive farmers, the country can achieve the goal of promoting olive cultivation and self-sufficiency in oil needs. The government and private sector should join hands to improve cultivation and harvest techniques in olive production, species selection, nursery management, and oil analysis.


  1. Thank you for the information. Can you provide some details about nurseries in Punjab, and the potential of growing olives in Kalar Kahar and Attock area.

    1. Dear

      You can approach Barani Agricultural Institute in Chakwal
      (BARI 0543 594499) to get the technological help.

      PAMCO (Punjab Agriculture & Meat Company)
      has distributed olive plants to potential farmers who can propogate these and then turn them into nurseries in next 5 years selling saplings to future olive orchard plantations, this is a great business opportunity.
      OLIVE TREES HAS FRUIT BEARING LIFE OF OVER 1000's of years if taken care.

      A farmer in Kalar Kahar area has hands on experience and managing about 300 trees. Yousuf Shah 03004004408

  2. As Salaam o elakum

    I am involved in olive business in Pakistan. We are buying olive fruits from different farmewrs across th eregions of NWFP, Punjab, & Baluchistan. We then extract High grade: "Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Cold Crush/First crush", also we make some products as per local recipe, like pickles, jam, murabbah, chutney.

    We also provide assitance in settign up plantations in Punjab & NWFP. We have sources for saplings and experts for managemnt of the farm.

    Future is olive in Pakistan, as we can reach in top few countries ands then by earing huge foregin exchange, and our healths can gain by using olive oil in our food.

    Muhammad Azam Nazir Sheikh +92 333 6591777

  3. IMPRESA Pvt Ltd, is a truly international company with unparallel capabilities. Our strength is build on solid and exclusive business relations with innovative and “cutting edge” Italian companies which operates in different sectors.
    We provide qualitative certified olive plants. We are the only specialized people from private sector who are working in this field in Pakistan. Please contact us for olive plants, olive oil extraction units and consultancy.
    Manager Marketing
    0300 8541833

    1. Dear Sir,
      We are interested for olive oil business, if possible kindly share with me the business plan documents in soft file, or pdf file. Just we want that how to make a business plan. Need of your help because everyone has wishes he/she has own business for development.
      Best regards
      Shah Faisal Khan
      Cell no.0333-5269098

  4. like to start a pilot project for olive cultivation in district Narowal. Need more information about prices and address of government or private nurseries from where i can get plants.

  5. As Slaam O Elakum
    Dear Zafar Ch.

    Narowal has hot weather for the varities being planted in Pakistan. They will not bear fruit as commercial production. The trees will grow and may give some fruit.
    Just for experiment you can get the plants from us or from BARI @ Chakwal. You can go gor one plot of 120 trees as orchard and wait for 5 years before the give fruit, and/or put it on the surrondings of your agiculture land where you already do Wheat/Rice, etc. and get the blessed tree and this may also be an experiment for you to see the viability of fruting in your area.

    If you have any link in Morrocoo, the weather/variety from their may suit for your area,

    Muhammad Azam Nazir Sheikh Al-Zaitoun
    0333 6591777

  6. Thanks Azam Sb, you have always been helpful in granting the useful information when contacted on your cell. I am planning to buy some plants from Aurangzeb of Impresa. BARI has been gracious of granting plants for my village area in AJK where plantation has been successful.

  7. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can someone tell us the focal person on olive grafting/plantation.

  8. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa especially in District Malakand, would someone share the contact details of Focal person for olive plantation.

  9. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa especially in District Malakand, would someone share the contact details of Focal person for olive plantation.

  10. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can someone tell us the focal person on olive grafting/plantation.

  11. As Salaam O Elakum
    Dear Sir,

    Food for Thoughts, summary of my concept since 2008 on olives sector.

    We have been buying fruits from farmers and selling value added products.

    Now is the time for great co-operation and corporate business to enhance the capacity & profits.

    Future is here for those who become Initiators.

    Attach documents is a way forward for money making & future expansion.

    The feasibility is a guide on things required and expected scenario. The details are for idea on the requirements, some variations always add up in any project.

    We are looking for Investors & businessmen to take this whole as project or different individuals become shareholders or individuals can take portion of the sector, for the greater benefit for all.

    For those who already have plantations, can take a leading role. For those who have financial strength and take the industrial portion, and traders/shareholders to take part in marketing & distribution.

    We are looking for co-operative corporation style company to benefit all; Farmers to Financier.

    Those who are taking part in USAID-PEEP grants, can discuss with me as having practical experience in OLIVE sector of PAKISTAN since 2008, through purchase of fruit till marketing of value addition products.

    Even those sections of business where grants are not available, even then we have found that this gives earnings of 40 - 100 percent within 1-3 years, whether industry or marketing.

    Muhammad Azam Nazir Sheikh

  12. AoA,
    Can some one please let me,know if olive is feasible in chackbelli area? Plus if you can share adress and phone number of some farmer in chakbelli or chakwal area, whose farm is already in fruit bearing stage/giving production. Thanks.

  13. AoA,
    Can some one please let me,know if olive is feasible in chackbelli area? Plus if you can share adress and phone number of some farmer in chakbelli or chakwal area, whose farm is already in fruit bearing stage/giving production. Thanks.

  14. AOA
    I have Raw Olive for sale from The Hattian AJK. How Can I sell it. Its around 80 Kg above my consumption. I can bring upto Islamabad.