Aiming to make Rajasthan a hub for olives in India, the state government has decided to promote olive (Jaitun) cultivation in 5,200 hectares under various schemes this year, from the existing 240 hectares. The desert state is also planning to boost production of olive oil, known for health benefits, from the current level of 10,000 litres and make the ‘Raj Olive oil’ an international brand.
“Currently, olive cultivation is being undertaken in state-farm fields in 240 hectares as part of the Indo-Israel project. Having seen encouraging results last year, we have decided to take olive cultivation to farmers’ fields,” Agriculture Minister Prabhu Lal Saini told PTI. Around 200 hectares under the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) and 5,000 hectares under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) will be brought under the olive cultivation this year, he said.
Saini also said: “We want to make our state a hub for olives in India. We have identified wasteland areas and also looking at hilly areas to expand cultivation. This will change the agro-economy of the state.” Farmers are being encouraged to grow olive trees by giving them free plants and technical assistance, he said, adding that the state is currently growing oil plants and plans to promote non-oil varieties of olives used as salad.
Last year, the state had harvested the first crop of olive fruits to the tune of 100 tonnes and also had extracted 10,000 litres of oil, which was marketed under the brand name ‘Raj Olive Oil’. The minister said that olive fruit output this year may exceed 100 tonnes and this would help increase production of olive oil, one of the most expensive cooking oils.
The Vasundhara Raje government, in its earlier term in 2007, had commenced the Olive cultivation project by taking assistance from Israel and planted over 1 lakh saplings in seven agro-climatic zones. Currently, oil plants are grown in districts like Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Jhunjhunu. The best known olive plantations are grown in Italy, Spain, Israel and Greece.
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