09 Apr

Pakistan: Italians keen to invest in olive oil production

Italian investors are keen to invest in olive oil production in Pakistan, said Italian Ambassador Vincenzo Prati while addressing the National Conference on “Olive oil Production in Pakistan: result and way forward” at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) on Wednesday.

He said there was a dire need to establish interaction between chambers of commerce of Pakistan and Italy to improve olive oil business between the two countries. “Pakistan is the biggest importer of edible oil and its economy bears a great burden annually on import of this valuable commodity,” he added.

“Olive plantation is not an easy task. It is not just to plant a tree. If you do not have suitable soil it cannot be planted. But Pakistan has been gifted with natural climate and soil for olive plantation and Potohar, NWFP & FATA are potential areas for olive production,” he added.

Food and Agriculture Secretary Muhammad Ziaur Rehamn said Pakistan was pre-dominantly an agriculture region. The contribution of agriculture to GDP in Pakistan is nearly 21 percent, he said.

“Our strategy is to enhance domestic edible oil production through vertical and horizontal increase in sunflower and canola crops as short term measures and to transform this sector into plantation economy,” he said.

He said they had planned to launch a mega project for promotion of olive oil products for poverty alleviation and economic development. He appreciated and thanked the Italian government for funding this project through Italian debt swap arrangements.

Pakistan Oilseed Development Board (PODB) Managing Director Kaiser Ali Shah said oilseed crops were facing competition with the important cash crops like; wheat, cotton and rice. “We have plans to move towards plantation economy besides exploring other niches for these crops,” he said. aamir yasin

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