Monday, December 5

Italy to provide technical support to Pakistan in olive cultivation

ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Steering Committee on Olive Culture Holistic and Multi-Professional Mechanism for a Pakistani Olive Oil Value Chain project was held at the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan, Andreas Ferrarese and Secretary National Food Security and Research Zafar Hasan co-chaired the meeting, says an official statement issued here on Tuesday. The project, funded by the Italian Government, started in March 2022 with an aim of building a multi-professional olive and olive oil value chain in Pakistan to enhance olive production and improve food security through technical assistance and training of the stakeholders.

Government of Pakistan and Government of Italy are jointly executing the project through the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM-Bari), Italy, the Italian Agency for international Cooperation, Pakistan Oilseed Department and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research with the total cost of €1.5 million.

Secretary National Food Security and Research Zafar Hasan remarked that every year we spend our precious foreign reserves on import of edible olive oil; this project will help to replace it with the domestic production.

He hoped that the private sector will multiplicate the project and take it forward. Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan, Andreas Ferrarese said Pakistan has a huge potential for olives. Italy will continue to support Pakistan in olive production, he added. While apprising the forum on the progress of the project, Marco Marchetti Project Director said that preliminary assessments were complete and policy support in drafting of Olive Policy was provided to the Government of Pakistan.

In the first olive harvesting season of the project (Sep 2022-Nov 2022), field trainings on good agronomics practices were provided, along with guidance on olive processing protocols and hygiene safety in Balochistan, Punjab and KPK, told Marco Marchetti. Marco Marchetti said the project is taking rural communities on-board in order to streamline the Pakistani olive oil value chain. Activities to increase awareness of olive culture are also part of the project, he added.

“International experts for training and technical assistance have been engaged as well; this will help in learning the techniques and technology to get the best outcomes,” said Marco Marchetti. The project will also partner with the University of Agriculture, Peshawar, to categorize varieties of olives and create new ones.

While presenting the next year’s plan, Marco Marchetti said that the next phase will focus on the capacity building of the farmers and the provincial agriculture departments. Secretary National Food Security and Research Zafar Hasan, while thanking the Government of Italy for the support, said that the Pakistani side will make every effort to make it a success.

He said the project is aligned with the PSDP Project “Promotion of Olive Cultivation on Commercial Scale in Pakistan (Phase-II)”, under which culturable waste land in all provinces and autonomous regions of AJ and K and Gilgit Baltistan will be brought under olive cultivation.