CHANDIGARH JULY 22:The Punjab government is all set to launch olive cultivation over 300 hectares under a ‘pilot project’ to ensure better remunerative returns to the farmers on one hand and towards a dedicated push for diversification of agriculture on the other.
Reviewing the prospects of the olive plantation in a meeting, Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today explored all the possibilities of olive plantation in the state in a big way.
Punjab Agro – the nodal agency for this project had already held negotiations with Indolive Enterprises Limited, Israel to study the prospects of olive plantation in the state. Indolive along with a Private Indian Company had already entered into an agreement with Rajasthan Government for Olive Cultivation Project. The meeting was informed as per the preliminary information collected by Indolive had concluded that olive cultivation was definitely feasible and had a great economic viability in Punjab.
The Chief Minister asked the Punjab Agro to encourage the Punjabi farmers to adopt olive cultivation as the climatic conditions in the state were suitable for moderate to high yield olive cultivation which would result in 3 fold increase in their income as compared to Paddy-Wheat rotation. Presently, the olive oil prices are US$ 3.6 per kg. With the given price the income would be approximately over Rs.3 lac per hectare from 6th year onwards as the fruiting starts from 3rd year and average oil yield would be 600 kg, 1200 kg, 1600 kg and 2000 kg per hectare in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th year respectively. He said that the project on olive cultivation in Punjab would give benefits like water conservation, increased income, generate employment, foreign exchange earning, ecological balance and diversification in agriculture.
Financial Commissioner Development RS Sandhu informed that the Wheat and Rice combination in Punjab consumed at least 45,000 M3 of water per hectare. Olive will only need about 5,000 M3 per hectare, using drip irrigation, in order to give high yield and high quality crop thus it consumes 1/9th of water quantity as compared to wheat-paddy.
Managing Director Punjab Agro SK Sandhu said that the olive cultivation would be in Public Private Participation (PPP) mode in a transparent manner by inviting expression of interests globally and nationally. The Punjab Government, Foreign Company and an Indian partner would establish a private company in equal shares with one third each. The new company-Punjab Olive Company (POC) would set up three commercial pilot plantations in each "Rain Zone" of North, Central and South Punjab.
It was also informed in the meeting that investment in this project was expected to be around $2.5 millions (Rs.10 crore). Out of which 25% of the investment would be covered by subsidies from National Horticulture Board (NHB) and National Horticulture Mission (NHM), 45% by the Government of Punjab and 30% by the Private Investor. Foreign company’s contribution would be in a form of technology supply and business management. Foreign collaborator would invest in the extraction plants and will guarantee to buy the fruits from the farmers for a price that would be calculated based on a formula linked to the price of the olive oil in Spanish market.
The meeting was attended by Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister KJS Cheema, Additional Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Gagandeep Singh Brar and Director Agriculture BS Sidhu.