Pakistan Agriculture and Research Council (PARC) and Poverty Alleviation and National Institute for Genomics and Advanced Biotechnology (NIGAB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here to promote rapid olive cultivation in the country with the help of advanced technology.
The MoU was signed by Director of Promotion of Olive Cultivation for Economic Development Project PARC, Dr. Muhammad Munir and Project Director (NIGAB), Dr. Muhammad Ramzan Khan here at PARC headquarters.
According to the MoU, both the parties will establish research linkages for the project entitled “Rapid Identification of Olive Cultivators using DNA Markers”. NIGAB is being outsourced for this task through Olive Promotion project, said a PARC statement adding the total cost of the project is Rs.2.0 million for fingerprinting and variety identification of 2000 olive plants.
The whole project will be completed in a period of 3 months while the plant sampling for DNA extraction will be done from the olive orchards in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Varieties identification of 2000 plant samples will be carried out at NIGAB Lab, the statement said and added that the project is of national importance to develop mother orchards for further propagation of olive plantation.
PARC Chairman, Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad, Itialian Expert, Dr. Marco Marchetti, Member (PSD), Dr. Shahid Masood and other senior PARC Scientists were also present at the ceremony.
As many as 1,300 acre of land has already been brought under olive cultivation in less than one year under Olive Promotion Project launched by PARC with an aim to exploit the potential in this particular sector and make the country self-sufficient in olive production.
The project was launched in mid last year under the debt-swap agreement between Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and the Italian government for promoting olive farming in Pakistan.
The PARC in coordination with the provincial governments aims to bring 3500 acres of land under olive cultivation in three years to help country reduce its oil imports and save millions of dollars spent for this purpose, Dr. Iftikhar, Chairman PARC told APP.
In addition to these 3500 acres of land, the council has been conducting a thorough survey all across the country to identify further land for olive cultivation.
He was of the view that country was using millions of dollars for importing oil, however if the existing olive cultivation potential is tapped, the country would be in position to export olive.
He said that Pakistan has vast marginal lands which provide conducive atmosphere and environment for the olive cultivation adding that without utilizing the existing cultivable land the councils has identified barren and marginal lands for the cultivation of olive.