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Rajasthan plans to expand it's olive cultivation from 280 hectors to 5000 hectors

The current production of Olives, which have immense benefits for health, in Rajasthan is around 100-110 tonnes annually and expected to grow, the minister said, while adding efforts will also be made to spread awareness about the benefits of the fruit and its oil.


Buoyed by the encouraging results of olive cultivation project, the desert state of Rajasthan in India is all set to proactively promote cultivation of the cash crop and has set up first-of-the country Olive oil refinery for commercial production of oil and other products.


The Ms. Vasundhara Raje government, in its earlier term in 2007, had commenced the Olive cultivation project by taking assistance from Israel and planted 1.12 lakh saplings in 7 agro-climatic zones which have started bearing fruit with rich contents.


"The project has been very successful and the fruiting is rich with nearly 15 per cent contents.


"This will change the agro-economy and to translate the cultivation into a big success, we have set up an oil refinery in Bikaner district," Agriculture Minister Mr. Prabhu Lal Saini told PTI.


He said the refinery has been set up in Lunkaransar area at a cost of Rs 4 crore and a team of experts from Israel will demonstrate the functions of the refinery which will be operationalised in next few days.


"With this, people will have the taste of Olives grown in Rajasthan. We are planning to sell the Olive oil under the brand name ‘Raj Olive Oil’," the Minister said.


Encouraged by the success, the government is planning to promote olive cultivation, a typically Mediterranean occupation, at mass level in the state where 7 farms in different agro-climatic zones are presently growing such plants under the project.


"We are encouraging farmers to grow olive trees and giving them free plants and technical assistance and advise to make the farming financial viable. They are also being given buy-back guarantee. The crop starts giving fruits in 4-6 years and continues for long if maintained properly," he added.


The minister informed that the government has earmarked 11 more districts for expanding the project and promoting farmers to grow the crop.


Currently oil plants are in the districts like Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Jhunjhunu.

"At present, the olive cultivation is on 282 hectare land (182 hectares in 7 farms and 100 hectares by other farmers) and our target is to expand it to 5000 hectares of land in next few years," Saini said.


Rajasthan is the leading state for this cultivation in the country and other states have taken nearly 10 lakh olive plants from it, he said.


Seven leading varieties of Barnea, Arbequina, Crotina, Picholine, Picual, Coraniki and Frontoy have been planted in the farms.
Irrigation, he said, is being done through drip irrigation which is automatically controlled by one of the most advanced systems at four farms, while in the rest it is being undertaken through manual control system.


Olive is a small tree belonging to the oleaceae family and is found in coastal areas of eastern Mediterranean (Italy and Spain), northern Iraq and northern Iran south of the Caspian Sea.


Its fruit adorns salads, but is used primarily to extract olive oil, one of the most expensive cooking oils.
The best known olive plantations are found in Spain, Italy, Lebanon, Israel, and Greece.


Source: DNA


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