Italy to Provide Technical Support to Pakistan in Olive Cultivation

The Olive Culture Holistic and Multi-Professional Mechanism for a Pakistani Olive Oil Value Chain Project, funded by the Italian government, aims to enhance olive oil production and improve food security in Pakistan through technical assistance and training of the stakeholders.

A meeting of the steering committee on the project was held at the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. The ambassador of Italy to Pakistan Andreas Ferrarese, and the National Food Security and Research Secretary Zafar Hasan co-chaired the meeting.

The project began in March 2022 with the goal of establishing a multi-professional olive and olive oil value chain in Pakistan to boost olive production and improve food security through technical assistance and stakeholder training.

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

The secretary remarked that every year the country spends precious foreign reserves on the import of edible olive oil, and this project will help to replace it with domestic production. He hoped that the private sector would multiply the project and take it forward.

The Italian ambassador said Pakistan has a huge potential for olives and Italy will continue to support Pakistan in olive production.

While apprising the forum on the progress of the project, Marco Marchetti, the project director, said that the preliminary assessments were complete and that policy support in the drafting of the Olive Policy had been provided to the government of Pakistan.

In the first olive harvesting season of the project (Sept 2022–Nov 2022), field training on good agronomic practices was provided, along with guidance on olive processing protocols and hygiene safety in Balochistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), said Marchetti.

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.

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, Marchetti said that the next phase will focus on the capacity building of the farmers and the provincial agriculture departments.

The secretary 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 that the project is aligned with the PSDP Project Promotion of Olive Cultivation on Commercial Scale in Pakistan (Phase II), under which culturable wasteland in all provinces and autonomous regions of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit Baltistan will be brought under olive cultivation.