Olive Revolution: Pakistan Joins International Olive Council

Pakistan's Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project launched in 2014 by the PTI government has sparked a silent olive revolution in the country.  Pakistan, now the 19th member of the International Olive Council, is producing about 1,500 tons of olive oil per year and 830 tons of table olives,  according to Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants. It is also helping tackle some of the effects of climate change such as soil erosion and desertification and bringing new opportunities to farmers. Olive cultivation was started as a pilot project in Potohar region by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif's government in 2014. The PTI government promoted it nationwide as a part of Prime Minister Imran Khan's Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative to bring about the olive revolution in the country. 

Olive Valley, Pakistan

Pakistan is the world's third largest importer of cooking oil. In 2020, Pakistan imported $2.1 billion worth of palm oil, behind only India's $5.1 billion and China's $4.1 billion in palm oil imports. Increasing olive oil production will help the country reduce its dependence on palm oil imports. Substituting imported palm oil with domestic olive oil may also help improve the heath of Pakistani consumers. 

The International Olive Council (IOC) has 18 members, mostly European and Middle Eastern nations located in the Mediterranean region. Pakistan has joined as its 19th member. The IOC members account for more than 98% of global olive production. The IOC has been headquartered in the Spanish capital Madrid since it was founded in 1959.  The organization specifies acceptable quality control testing methods and assures consumer transparency information, for example: hygiene standards along the supply chain, suitable packing materials and filling tolerances product labelling standards, identification of any food additives or allowable contaminants, recommendations for environmental protection in the use and disposal of olive products.  


Olive Plantation in Peshawar, Pakistan. Source: Olive  Oil Times

Welcoming Pakistan into the organization, Mr. Abdellatif Ghedira, the IOC’s executive director, told Olive Oil Times: “In Pakistan, olive oil culture is making inroads, and so are the opportunities related to that .....The council is a decisive player in contributing to the sustainable and responsible development of olive growing, and it serves as a world forum for discussing policymaking issues and tackling present and future challenges".  

Olive trees thrive in dry arid regions with rocky soils that are more challenging for traditional crops. Pakistan government officials believe that olive farming is an efficient answer both to reforestation needs and economic development. “A special focus in this phase will be given to underprivileged areas of the country, such as Southern Balochistan, Southern Punjab, the tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and some parts of Sindh province,” Muhammad Tariq, national project director at the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, told Olive Oil Times. 

It is expected that traditional farming and modern techniques would make large tracts of barren land productive, creating new jobs and growing the economy. Drip irrigation systems are being deployed over 16,000 hectares and 3.6 million olive trees. The Pakistani public and private sectors currently maintain 26 olive oil extraction plants of different capacities, from 80 kilograms per hour to 600, according to Olive Times.

Pakistan has the potential to be a world leader in olive production. In the last decade,  PTI's Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative has spurred rapid olive cultivation in Pakistan with the import of 100,000 olive seedlings from top olive producing countries like Spain, Italy and Turkey. Pakistan’s climate is conducive for olive production, as the olive trees grow fast in regions with moderate winters following long hot summers.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project, Pakistan is growing thousands of olive trees in its northwestern region – once considered a hotbed for terrorism activity.

https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/business/in-pakistan-efforts-to-grow-olives-in-underdeveloped-areas-begin-to-bear-fruit/105533

..after the federal government launched the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project in 2018, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province administration decided to plant thousands of olives as a symbol of peace in the region.

The provincial government’s forestry department has planted around 8,000 olive trees in Amangarh, a vast area of the country with little agricultural activity located around 40 kilometers northeast of the historic city of Peshawar.

Pakistan’s federal Ministry of Climate Change also launched the Olive Trees Tsunami Project in 2021, intending to plant four million hectares of olive trees.

After declaring the country’s land and climate suitable for olive tree cultivation, the ministry decided to plant trees in the southern region of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, tribal areas and northern parts of the province Punjab.

The Peshawar Divisional Forest Officer Tariq Khadim, looking after the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project in the province, told Olive Oil Times that 8,000 olive trees had been planted on 27 hectares of land.

All of the trees were sourced from the local nursery of the forest department, Khadim said.

He added that 2,000 hectares of barren land were allocated for a different plantation under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project. The forest department separated 27 hectares for olives as the land was suitable for planting them.

Khadim said though the terrain was suitable for olive growing, less rainfall and low underground water level emerged as a challenge to water the olive saplings.

He said the forest department in this area installed 10 solar panels, established tube wells and set drip irrigation system to water the olive saplings.

“A 16,000-foot (4,900-meter) water pipe has been used for drip irrigation and smooth supply of water for olive saplings,” he said.

The forest officer added that more than 95 percent of olive trees had grown successfully in the last two years.

Khadim added that these trees would bear an average of 110 kilograms of fruit each after four to five years, resulting in the average production of 12 liters of olive oil.

“About 112,000 liters of olive oil will be produced annually from this area after the plants started fruit production,” Khadim said.

Tahir Malik, a professor at the National University of Modern Languages, viewed planting olives in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a positive step after the Global War on Terrorism.

“People in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province suffered most in the country during the 20-year war in Afghanistan as they were on the frontlines when suicide bombings incidents were taking place from 2008 to 2013,” he said.

According to Malik, the conflict had severely negative psychological effects on people living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tarnished the region’s reputation worldwide.

He said that growing olives in the region would create a more favorable political narrative for the people and the region.

“It will reflect that people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa want peace, not bombs,” he said.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international body with the mandate of monitoring different projects of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project, has approved the plan to plant olive trees in the region.

Hammad Saeed, the organization’s project manager in Pakistan, said the plantations under the project had brought positive impacts for Pakistan.

“It has increased the forest cover area and generated the economic activity as well,” he said.

Saeed added that it was especially good to see a country already severely impacted by the effects of climate change taking serious steps in its mitigation.

Saleem said…
PTI loves to take the credits of others. This is a 2016 video, so the plantation started a few years earlier. There are many others too

https://youtu.be/DVfXvqPxaiY
Unknown said…
It's good news for the country.
In 2014 PTI was not in govt.onlyin KPK.
The main area if cultivation of olive tree is upper Punjab Attock and its surrounding.
Riaz Haq said…
Saleem: "PTI loves to take the credits of others. This is a 2016 video, so the plantation started a few years earlier. There are many others too"

A few olive seedlings planted by PMLN CM in 2016 in one region (Potohar) of one province (Punjab) did not amount to a national revolution. PTI’s nationwide campaign of planting olive seedlings in KP and Balochistan is what made the olive revolution in Pakistan
Tabish Rafiq said…
If olive plant takes 5-12 years to grow into a tree. How came ten million tree projected, started back in 2019 can be the reason for this?


Riaz Haq said…
Tabish: "If olive plant takes 5-12 years to grow into a tree. How came ten million tree projected, started back in 2019 can be the reason for this?"

In Pakistan, olive trees started as seedlings, not seeds. It takes 3-12 years depending on cultivar; most around years 5-6. PTI’s Tree planting campaign in KP began in 2014.

https://gardenerspath.com/plants/fruit-trees/grow-olive-trees/
Khalil said…
for cooking only use the 'Pomace' grade olive oil.
Extra Virgin is not to be heated to retain the healthy benefits of it. Use it to sprinkle on your prepared foods, dips, and salad dressing for maximum benefits and nutritional value.

Once the oil is heated up, it's not the same thing,
This oil is a juice more than oil.
Always consume it raw as it is.

Riaz Haq said…
Khalil: "Once the oil is heated up, it's not the same thing, This oil is a juice more than oil. Always consume it raw as it is"

Some sources put the smoke point of olive oil somewhere around 374–405°F (190–207°C) (17). This makes it a safe choice for most cooking methods, including most pan frying. Extra virgin olive oil's smoke point is somewhere around 374–405°F (190–207°C). This makes it a good choice for most cooking methods.



Normal cooking use is unlikely to oxidize or significantly damage olive oil.



However, it may degrade some of the antioxidants and vitamin E, which are sensitive to heat.



In one study, heating olive oil at 356°F (180°C) for 36 hours lead to a decrease in antioxidants and vitamin E, but most of the trace compounds were intact (18).



One of the main active compounds in extra virgin olive oil is oleocanthal. This substance is responsible for olive oil’s anti-inflammatory effects (19Trusted Source).



Heating olive oil at 464°F (240°C) for 90 minutes reduced the amount of oleocanthal by 19% according to a chemical test and 31% according to a taste test (20Trusted Source).



In another study, simulated frying for 24 hours reduced some beneficial compounds, but 10 minutes in a microwave or boiling in water had only minor effects (21Trusted Source).



The trace compounds in olive oil are also responsible for some of its flavor. Therefore, overheating olive oil can remove some of its taste.



Keep in mind that these studies use rather extreme conditions.



https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-olive-oil-good-for-cooking#nutrient-loss
Riaz Haq said…
Breakthrough project in Sindh turns Pakistan into palm oil producing country

https://www.arabnews.pk/node/1769666/pakistan


Oil content of palm fruit from Sindh's plantation in Thatta is 2 percent higher than the world average

Pakistan consumes 4.5 million tons of edible oil a year, of which some 90 percent is imported, mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia


Pakistan’s southeastern Sindh province has successfully completed a pilot oil palm cultivation and extraction project, putting the country on the list of palm oil producers.
An oil extraction facility at the site of the pilot oil palm plantation in the province’s southern Thatta district produced its first oil last week. The development is seen as a breakthrough for the South Asian nation which is heavily dependent on palm oil imports.

“The palm oil extraction is being done as a test run at the moment and the results are wonderful and very encouraging,” Muhammad Aslam Ghouri, secretary of Sindh’s Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Development which is running the project, told Arab News on Friday.


The Rs25 million ($157,000) pilot project started in 2016 on 50 acres of coastal land.

“In 2016, Malaysian experts came here and they studied everything including soil and environment and they certified that the fruit is very good,” Ghouri said. “The oil content of the palm fruit is 2 percent higher than the world average.”


The yield from the fertile soil is also encouraging as even 60 palm trees can be grown on each acre.


Pakistan consumes around 4.5 million tons of edible oil a year, of which some 90 percent is imported, mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia — the world’s biggest producers of the commodity.

While the Thatta oil extraction facility can produce only up to two tons of oil a day, Ghouri believes the reliance on imports can be greatly reduced if the Sindh project is expanded.

Seeing the project as a “game changer” for the province and country, the Sindh government has already allocated an additional 1,600 acres for palm cultivation, which it further plans to expand to 3,000 acres.

Ghouri said that ECC&CD has already invited farmers and private firms to show the “success story” and encourage them to invest and join the industry.
“Seeing the success of this pilot project we can safely say that in future when there is investment in this sector, private parties come in to start palm plantation and invest in oil extraction mills as we have shown that it can be done. Then this (less reliance on imports) can happen.”

Oil traders, however, say that there is a long way ahead before Pakistan will be able to offset the imports of the staple commodity.
“It is a step in the right direction that has a potential to substitute palm oil imports and save foreign exchange, but it would take time to make any meaningful contribution as the country imports on an average 100,000 tons of palm oil per month,” Ismail Wali, an oil trader at Jodia Bazaar in Karachi, told Arab News.
Farmers are less enthusiastic as they remember a similar initiative being undertaken in 1996 to develop the country’s vast coastal belt into an oil palm cultivation hub. For two decades the project was neglected, causing huge losses.
“We had imported expensive samplings of palm and planted over an area of 400 acres in Mirpur Sakro, Thatta district,” Mumrez Khan, a former oil palm farmer, told Arab News.

“We had to abandon the plantation in 2009 due to lack of support and required guidance from the government.”
Asad Aziz said…
Indeed, credit should be given to all in the process like nuclear success which started from Bhutto n culminated in NS govt.
continuity of good policy is imp which most of govt in past failed to do.
For example 1122 could have been turned into national service but it was not.
Unknown said…
A very informative article. Indeed both projects if pursued and patronized by federal and provincial governments aggressively can prove to be a game changer for Pakistan. The oil plantation has effectively taken off and progressing satisfactorily but the Palm Oil plantation project in Sindh province needs to be expanded massively with considerable investment by government. If left to the private investors it will not make any significant impact even in the next 10 years. It has tremendous potential and will certainly be a game changer for Pakistan.
Replying to an Unknown comment about the PTI government in the province of Khyber Pukhtoon Khawa (KPK).
PTI formed its coalition government in 2013 so it was governing KPK in 2014.
PTI obtained a two third majority in 2018 elections as a result of its performance in the preceding five years.
Great step for economy of Pakistan. I have been done my m.phil on North regions of kpk. Soil analysis result reveled that area is suitable for olive plantation. Great sir
Shahzada azizullah khan said…
Olive every species can ban grown easily in kpk.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Punjab Govt releases schedule for spring sunflower cultivation - Pakistan Observer

By News desk -December 16, 2021

https://pakobserver.net/punjab-govt-releases-schedule-for-spring-sunflower-cultivation/

Cultivation of sunflower in Dera Ghazi Khan & Rajanpur will start from 15th December to January 31st , while the second phase includes Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Khanewal, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Layyah, Lodhran, Rajanpur, Bhakkar, Vehari and Bahawalnagar from 1st till 31st January.

In the third phase of sunflower cultivation Mianwali, Sargodha, Khushbab, Jhang, Sahiwal, Orkara, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Lahore, Mandi Bahauddin, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Narwal, Attock, Rawalpindi, Gujarat, Chakwal.

Sunflower planting season is scheduled for January 15th to February 15th. Use 2 kg of hybrid seeds per acre for sunflower cultivation. Suitable types of sunflower include High Sun-33, T-40318, Agora 4, NKR Money, US 666, US 444, PAR Sun 3, Axon-5264, Axin-5270, S-278, HS. F-360A, Sun-7, Ori-648, Ori-516. It is very important to cultivate sunflower at the right time to get better yield because late planting not only reduces the yield per acre of sunflower but also reduces the quantity of oil. Pakistan imports Rs 300 billion worth of edible oil every year, which is a burden on the country’s economy.
Anonymous said…
Hello Riaz Haq:
I have read your article you referred that Pakistan has joined international olive council.
I counter check international olive council website, PAKISTAN name is NOT there.
Can you please provide the correct source that endorses your claim.
Riaz Haq said…
Anon: "Can you please provide the correct source that endorses your claim"

PAKISTAN TO JOIN THE IOC

MADRID / 09.02.2022


https://www.internationaloliveoil.org/pakistan-to-join-the-ioc/


It is becoming increasingly likely that Pakistan will become the 19th member of the IOC. A delegation of senior officials and directors from the Pakistani Government visited IOC headquarters in Madrid today. They were welcomed by the Executive Director Abdellatif Ghedira, who was accompanied by his two Deputy Executive Directors, Jaime Lillo and Mustafa Sepetçi, and the heads of the different Operational Units: Standardisation and Research; Economics, Statistics and Promotion; Technical, Training and Environment; External Relations; Observatory and Information Systems; and the Director’s Secretariat.

Today’s meeting was an opportunity to revisit the stages of this collaboration which began last year, with a first visit in March 2021 followed by a webinar between the two parties on 27 May. The rapprochement continued in November with a visit to the country, at the invitation of the Pakistani authorities and private sector. The Executive Director and the Head of the External Relations Department, Mounir Fourati, were welcomed by H.E. the Federal Minister of Agriculture at his residence.

Today’s meeting provided an opportunity to brief stakeholders in the Pakistani administration on how to join the IOC and the benefits and advantages of IOC membership in terms of access to expertise and technical assistance, standardisation, subsidies and promotional programmes to support its olive sector.

Everything seems to be leaning towards a new and important accession to the International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives 2015, which could be formalised this year in accordance with the procedures of the Agreement, whose depositary is the United Nations office.


Riaz Haq said…
A crucial bridge in northern Pakistan collapsed on 7 May after a glacial lake outburst.

https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/05/10/pakistan-bridge-is-swept-away-in-severe-flash-flooding

This was caused by a recent heatwave, which released huge amounts of water into the stream and surrounding areas, local media reported.

Experts are saying the water volume at the Shisper glacier lake had increased by 40 per cent over the past 20 days due to unusually high and abrupt temperature rises in the north of the country.


Pakistan recorded its hottest April in decades with Jacobabad touching 49C.

They also added that rapidly melting glaciers have created more than 3,000 glacial lakes in the northern areas and 33 could burst soon. This would send torrents of water coursing through streams, which is very dangerous.

In Hassanabad, local officials helped those affected and ensured that people were not stranded due to the flooding.

“A compact bridge would be temporarily installed to restore traffic,” while construction of a permanent bridge would take about seven to eight months, National Highway Authority chair Muhammad Khurram Agha said, according to Gulf News.

Traffic was diverted to an alternate route and heavy transport vehicles were barred.

There has been no loss of life, officials said.

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