Punjab Govt to launch pilot project on olive cultivation

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Chandigarh, Jul 22 (UNI) The Punjab Government has decided to launch a pilot project for olive cultivation over 300 hectares of land to ensure remunerative returns to farmers and give a push to diversification of agriculture.

Reviewing the prospects of the olive plantation in a meeting here today, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal explored the possibilities of olive plantation in the state in a big way.

Punjab Agro, the nodal agency for this project, has 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.

It was informed in the meeting that olive cultivation was definitely feasible and had a great economic viability in Punjab as per the preliminary information collected by Indolive.

The Chief Minister asked the Punjab Agro to encourage the farmers to adopt olive cultivation as the climatic conditions in the state were suitable for this, which would result in three fold increase in their income as compared to Paddy-Wheat cultivation.

Presently, the olive oil prices are 3.6 dollars per kg. With the given rise the income would be approximately over Rs three lakh per hectare.

He said the project on olive cultivation would give benefits like water conservation, increased income, generate employment and earn foreign exchange.

Punjab Agro Managing Director S K Sandhu said the olive cultivation would be in Public Private Participation (PPP) mode and added that expression of interests would be invited globally.

The Punjab Government, Foreign Company and an Indian partner would establish a company in equal shares for the purpose and the new company to be known as Punjab Olive Company (POC) would set up three commercial pilot plantations in each ''Rain Zone'' of North, Central and South Punjab.

It was informed in the meeting that investment in this project was expected to be around 2.5 million dollar (Rs 10 crore). Out of which 25 per cent of the investment would be covered by subsidies from National Horticulture Board (NHB) and National Horticulture Mission (NHM), 45 per cent by the Government of Punjab and 30 per cent 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 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.

UNI VKJ PD NS2155

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