RAWALPINDI – Olive cultivation in the Potohar region is set to receive a boost following an agreement between the USAID and the arid agriculture research body to facilitate research in the sector.
On Thursday The USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Barani Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) to establish an Olive Research Center (ORC) and a grant agreement with the Olive Foundation to conduct research to facilitate private sector investment.
The signing took place at a meeting with the Olive Development Group and was held at BARI in Chakwal. Agriculture Department Secretary Capt. (Retired) Muhammad Mahmood, Provincial Director for USAID/Lahore Alyson McFarland, and sector stakeholders witnessed the signing.
“The Olive Development Group serves as a platform for the emerging olive sector in Punjab and represents an integrated approach to sector development based on quick decision-making, rapid advocacy for policy reforms, and investment mobilisation and job creation avenues,” said Ms Alyson McFarland. “USAID is pleased to support the development of the Potohar region as an olive valley.”
Secretary Mahmood said, “The Government of Punjab realises the significance of the socio-economic opportunities offered by olive-producing regions in the Potohar Valley of Punjab. Today’s meeting of the Olive Development Group highlights the government’s commitment to facilitate private sector stakeholders in taking an active part in the olive sector development in Punjab.”
The Olive Development Group, created by the Government of Punjab with the support of USAID’s Punjab Enabling Environment Project, works with public and private sector entities to improve the business environment of the olive sector in Punjab. The ODG is chaired by Secretary Mahmood and is comprised of representatives from the olive value chain, academia, and industry associations. The Government of Punjab provides more than two million plants free of cost over five years to develop the Potohar Valley and catalyse 15,000 cultivated acres.
USAID’s Punjab Enabling Environment Project is a five-year, $15 million project to improve the business environment in the livestock, dairy and horticulture sectors of Punjab. BARI, Chakwal was established in 1979 to resolve the agricultural challenges of barani [rain-fed] areas. In addition to establishing the ORC, PEEP is introducing international olive oil standards, developing standard operating procedures for registration of olive nurseries, and supporting a feasibility study on olive farming.