Olive Revolution: Pakistan Joins International Olive Council

Pakistan's Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project launched in 2014 by the PTI government has sparked a silent olive revolution in the country.  Pakistan, now the 19th member of the International Olive Council, is producing about 1,500 tons of olive oil per year and 830 tons of table olives,  according to Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants. It is also helping tackle some of the effects of climate change such as soil erosion and desertification and bringing new opportunities to farmers. Olive cultivation was started as a pilot project in Potohar region by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif's government in 2014. The PTI government promoted it nationwide as a part of Prime Minister Imran Khan's Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative to bring about the olive revolution in the country. 

Olive Valley, Pakistan

Pakistan is the world's third largest importer of cooking oil. In 2020, Pakistan imported $2.1 billion worth of palm oil, behind only India's $5.1 billion and China's $4.1 billion in palm oil imports. Increasing olive oil production will help the country reduce its dependence on palm oil imports. Substituting imported palm oil with domestic olive oil may also help improve the heath of Pakistani consumers. 

The International Olive Council (IOC) has 18 members, mostly European and Middle Eastern nations located in the Mediterranean region. Pakistan has joined as its 19th member. The IOC members account for more than 98% of global olive production. The IOC has been headquartered in the Spanish capital Madrid since it was founded in 1959.  The organization specifies acceptable quality control testing methods and assures consumer transparency information, for example: hygiene standards along the supply chain, suitable packing materials and filling tolerances product labelling standards, identification of any food additives or allowable contaminants, recommendations for environmental protection in the use and disposal of olive products.  

Olive Plantation in Peshawar, Pakistan. Source: Olive  Oil Times

Welcoming Pakistan into the organization, Mr. Abdellatif Ghedira, the IOC’s executive director, told Olive Oil Times: “In Pakistan, olive oil culture is making inroads, and so are the opportunities related to that .....The council is a decisive player in contributing to the sustainable and responsible development of olive growing, and it serves as a world forum for discussing policymaking issues and tackling present and future challenges".  

Olive trees thrive in dry arid regions with rocky soils that are more challenging for traditional crops. Pakistan government officials believe that olive farming is an efficient answer both to reforestation needs and economic development. “A special focus in this phase will be given to underprivileged areas of the country, such as Southern Balochistan, Southern Punjab, the tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and some parts of Sindh province,” Muhammad Tariq, national project director at the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, told Olive Oil Times. 

It is expected that traditional farming and modern techniques would make large tracts of barren land productive, creating new jobs and growing the economy. Drip irrigation systems are being deployed over 16,000 hectares and 3.6 million olive trees. The Pakistani public and private sectors currently maintain 26 olive oil extraction plants of different capacities, from 80 kilograms per hour to 600, according to Olive Times.

Pakistan has the potential to be a world leader in olive production. In the last decade,  PTI's Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative has spurred rapid olive cultivation in Pakistan with the import of 100,000 olive seedlings from top olive producing countries like Spain, Italy and Turkey. Pakistan’s climate is conducive for olive production, as the olive trees grow fast in regions with moderate winters following long hot summers.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on May 7, 2022 at 6:52pm

Under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project, Pakistan is growing thousands of olive trees in its northwestern region – once considered a hotbed for terrorism activity.

https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/business/in-pakistan-efforts-to-grow-...

..after the federal government launched the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project in 2018, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province administration decided to plant thousands of olives as a symbol of peace in the region.

The provincial government’s forestry department has planted around 8,000 olive trees in Amangarh, a vast area of the country with little agricultural activity located around 40 kilometers northeast of the historic city of Peshawar.

Pakistan’s federal Ministry of Climate Change also launched the Olive Trees Tsunami Project in 2021, intending to plant four million hectares of olive trees.

After declaring the country’s land and climate suitable for olive tree cultivation, the ministry decided to plant trees in the southern region of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, tribal areas and northern parts of the province Punjab.

The Peshawar Divisional Forest Officer Tariq Khadim, looking after the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project in the province, told Olive Oil Times that 8,000 olive trees had been planted on 27 hectares of land.

All of the trees were sourced from the local nursery of the forest department, Khadim said.

He added that 2,000 hectares of barren land were allocated for a different plantation under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project. The forest department separated 27 hectares for olives as the land was suitable for planting them.

Khadim said though the terrain was suitable for olive growing, less rainfall and low underground water level emerged as a challenge to water the olive saplings.

He said the forest department in this area installed 10 solar panels, established tube wells and set drip irrigation system to water the olive saplings.

“A 16,000-foot (4,900-meter) water pipe has been used for drip irrigation and smooth supply of water for olive saplings,” he said.

The forest officer added that more than 95 percent of olive trees had grown successfully in the last two years.

Khadim added that these trees would bear an average of 110 kilograms of fruit each after four to five years, resulting in the average production of 12 liters of olive oil.

“About 112,000 liters of olive oil will be produced annually from this area after the plants started fruit production,” Khadim said.

Tahir Malik, a professor at the National University of Modern Languages, viewed planting olives in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a positive step after the Global War on Terrorism.

“People in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province suffered most in the country during the 20-year war in Afghanistan as they were on the frontlines when suicide bombings incidents were taking place from 2008 to 2013,” he said.

According to Malik, the conflict had severely negative psychological effects on people living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tarnished the region’s reputation worldwide.

He said that growing olives in the region would create a more favorable political narrative for the people and the region.

“It will reflect that people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa want peace, not bombs,” he said.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international body with the mandate of monitoring different projects of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project, has approved the plan to plant olive trees in the region.

Hammad Saeed, the organization’s project manager in Pakistan, said the plantations under the project had brought positive impacts for Pakistan.

“It has increased the forest cover area and generated the economic activity as well,” he said.

Saeed added that it was especially good to see a country already severely impacted by the effects of climate change taking serious steps in its mitigation.

Comment by Akhtar Hussain on May 8, 2022 at 6:35am

 Riaz Sb.  This is excellent news.  Finally some more good news after some political drama.  Pakistan Zindabad.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 8, 2022 at 8:12pm

Breakthrough project in Sindh turns Pakistan into palm oil producing country

https://www.arabnews.pk/node/1769666/pakistan


Oil content of palm fruit from Sindh's plantation in Thatta is 2 percent higher than the world average

Pakistan consumes 4.5 million tons of edible oil a year, of which some 90 percent is imported, mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia


Pakistan’s southeastern Sindh province has successfully completed a pilot oil palm cultivation and extraction project, putting the country on the list of palm oil producers.
An oil extraction facility at the site of the pilot oil palm plantation in the province’s southern Thatta district produced its first oil last week. The development is seen as a breakthrough for the South Asian nation which is heavily dependent on palm oil imports.

“The palm oil extraction is being done as a test run at the moment and the results are wonderful and very encouraging,” Muhammad Aslam Ghouri, secretary of Sindh’s Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Development which is running the project, told Arab News on Friday.


The Rs25 million ($157,000) pilot project started in 2016 on 50 acres of coastal land.

“In 2016, Malaysian experts came here and they studied everything including soil and environment and they certified that the fruit is very good,” Ghouri said. “The oil content of the palm fruit is 2 percent higher than the world average.”


The yield from the fertile soil is also encouraging as even 60 palm trees can be grown on each acre.


Pakistan consumes around 4.5 million tons of edible oil a year, of which some 90 percent is imported, mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia — the world’s biggest producers of the commodity.

While the Thatta oil extraction facility can produce only up to two tons of oil a day, Ghouri believes the reliance on imports can be greatly reduced if the Sindh project is expanded.

Seeing the project as a “game changer” for the province and country, the Sindh government has already allocated an additional 1,600 acres for palm cultivation, which it further plans to expand to 3,000 acres.

Ghouri said that ECC&CD has already invited farmers and private firms to show the “success story” and encourage them to invest and join the industry.
“Seeing the success of this pilot project we can safely say that in future when there is investment in this sector, private parties come in to start palm plantation and invest in oil extraction mills as we have shown that it can be done. Then this (less reliance on imports) can happen.”

Oil traders, however, say that there is a long way ahead before Pakistan will be able to offset the imports of the staple commodity.
“It is a step in the right direction that has a potential to substitute palm oil imports and save foreign exchange, but it would take time to make any meaningful contribution as the country imports on an average 100,000 tons of palm oil per month,” Ismail Wali, an oil trader at Jodia Bazaar in Karachi, told Arab News.
Farmers are less enthusiastic as they remember a similar initiative being undertaken in 1996 to develop the country’s vast coastal belt into an oil palm cultivation hub. For two decades the project was neglected, causing huge losses.
“We had imported expensive samplings of palm and planted over an area of 400 acres in Mirpur Sakro, Thatta district,” Mumrez Khan, a former oil palm farmer, told Arab News.

“We had to abandon the plantation in 2009 due to lack of support and required guidance from the government.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 9, 2022 at 5:31pm

Pakistan Punjab Govt releases schedule for spring sunflower cultivation - Pakistan Observer

By News desk -December 16, 2021

https://pakobserver.net/punjab-govt-releases-schedule-for-spring-su...

Cultivation of sunflower in Dera Ghazi Khan & Rajanpur will start from 15th December to January 31st , while the second phase includes Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Khanewal, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Layyah, Lodhran, Rajanpur, Bhakkar, Vehari and Bahawalnagar from 1st till 31st January.

In the third phase of sunflower cultivation Mianwali, Sargodha, Khushbab, Jhang, Sahiwal, Orkara, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Lahore, Mandi Bahauddin, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Narwal, Attock, Rawalpindi, Gujarat, Chakwal.

Sunflower planting season is scheduled for January 15th to February 15th. Use 2 kg of hybrid seeds per acre for sunflower cultivation. Suitable types of sunflower include High Sun-33, T-40318, Agora 4, NKR Money, US 666, US 444, PAR Sun 3, Axon-5264, Axin-5270, S-278, HS. F-360A, Sun-7, Ori-648, Ori-516. It is very important to cultivate sunflower at the right time to get better yield because late planting not only reduces the yield per acre of sunflower but also reduces the quantity of oil. Pakistan imports Rs 300 billion worth of edible oil every year, which is a burden on the country’s economy.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 10, 2022 at 4:50pm

A crucial bridge in northern Pakistan collapsed on 7 May after a glacial lake outburst.

https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/05/10/pakistan-bridge-is-swept-...

This was caused by a recent heatwave, which released huge amounts of water into the stream and surrounding areas, local media reported.

Experts are saying the water volume at the Shisper glacier lake had increased by 40 per cent over the past 20 days due to unusually high and abrupt temperature rises in the north of the country.


Pakistan recorded its hottest April in decades with Jacobabad touching 49C.

They also added that rapidly melting glaciers have created more than 3,000 glacial lakes in the northern areas and 33 could burst soon. This would send torrents of water coursing through streams, which is very dangerous.

In Hassanabad, local officials helped those affected and ensured that people were not stranded due to the flooding.

“A compact bridge would be temporarily installed to restore traffic,” while construction of a permanent bridge would take about seven to eight months, National Highway Authority chair Muhammad Khurram Agha said, according to Gulf News.

Traffic was diverted to an alternate route and heavy transport vehicles were barred.

There has been no loss of life, officials said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 21, 2022 at 7:25pm

Our total consumption of wheat and atta is about 125kg per capita per year. Our per person per day calorie intake has risen from about 2,078 in 1949-50 to 2,400 in 2001-02 and 2,580 in 2020-21

By Riaz Riazuddin former deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.


https://www.dawn.com/news/1659441/consumption-habits-inflation

As households move to upper-income brackets, the share of spending on food consumption falls. This is known as Engel’s law. Empirical proof of this relationship is visible in the falling share of food from about 48pc in 2001-02 for the average household. This is an obvious indication that the real incomes of households have risen steadily since then, and inflation has not eaten up the entire rise in nominal incomes. Inflation seldom outpaces the rise in nominal incomes.

Coming back to eating habits, our main food spending is on milk. Of the total spending on food, about 25pc was spent on milk (fresh, packed and dry) in 2018-19, up from nearly 17pc in 2001-01. This is a good sign as milk is the most nourishing of all food items. This behaviour (largest spending on milk) holds worldwide. The direct consumption of milk by our households was about seven kilograms per month, or 84kg per year. Total milk consumption per capita is much higher because we also eat ice cream, halwa, jalebi, gulab jamun and whatnot bought from the market. The milk used in them is consumed indirectly. Our total per person per year consumption of milk was 168kg in 2018-19. This has risen from about 150kg in 2000-01. It was 107kg in 1949-50 showing considerable improvement since then.

Since milk is the single largest contributor in expenditure, its contribution to inflation should be very high. Thanks to milk price behaviour, it is seldom in the news as opposed to sugar and wheat, whose price trend, besides hurting the poor is also exploited for gaining political mileage. According to PBS, milk prices have risen from Rs82.50 per litre in October 2018 to Rs104.32 in October 2021. This is a three-year rise of 26.4pc, or per annum rise of 8.1pc. Another blessing related to milk is that the year-to-year variation in its prices is much lower than that of other food items. The three-year rise in CPI is about 30pc, or an average of 9.7pc per year till last month. Clearly, milk prices have contributed to containing inflation to a single digit during this period.

Next to milk is wheat and atta which constitute about 11.2pc of the monthly food expenditure — less than half of milk. Wheat and atta are our staple food and their direct consumption by the average household is 7kg per capita (84kg per capita per year). As we also eat naan from the tandoors, bread from bakeries etc, our indirect consumption of wheat and atta is 41kg per capita. Our total consumption of wheat and atta is about 125kg per capita per year. Our per person per day calorie intake has risen from about 2,078 in 1949-50 to 2,400 in 2001-02 and 2,580 in 2020-21. The per capita per day protein intake in grams increased from 63 to 67 to about 75 during these years. Does this indicate better health? To answer this, let us look at how we devour ghee and sugar. Also remember that each person requires a minimum of 2,100 calories and 60g of protein per day.

Undoubtedly, ghee, cooking oil and sugar have a special place in our culture. We are familiar with Urdu idioms mentioning ghee and shakkar. Two relate to our eating habits. We greet good news by saying ‘Aap kay munh may ghee shakkar’, which literally means that may your mouth be filled with ghee and sugar. We envy the fortune of others by saying ‘Panchon oonglian ghee mei’ (all five fingers immersed in ghee, or having the best of both worlds). These sayings reflect not only our eating trends, but also the inflation burden of the rising prices of these three items — ghee, cooking oil and sugar. Recall any wedding dinner. Ghee is floating in our plates.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 26, 2022 at 8:28pm

Edible oil: How double whammy of price hike is frying consumers


https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/957838-edible-oil-how-double-whamm...

During 2019, Pakistan imported 2.69 million tonnes of soybean and canola oilseed, valued at $1.10 billion. In addition to this, 2.55 million tonnes of palm oil and other byproducts were also imported during the same year, costing another $1.53 billion in the same year.

The import of oilseed swelled to 3.33 million tonnes in the 2021 calendar year with a price tag of $1.98 billion. Similarly, palm oil and other derivatives' imports during the same year ballooned to 2.98 million tonnes, costing $3.74 billion.

The ordeal of consumers because of the backbreaking inflation seems dying hard as prices are yet to peak, said market insiders. In the last couple of months of political instability alone, rupee has devalued to Rs193.70 or by 8.82 percent against dollar, which may further inflate the edible oil price by about Rs25/litre in the retail market in a fortnight or so.

The impact of recent three upward revisions in edible oil’s retail price is stated to be in addition to such cost escalation, according to market insiders.

Ban imposed by Indonesia on palm oil and other byproducts’ export, Ukraine-Russia war, and prolonged heatwave may also negatively contribute to the cost of edible oil, further straining the livelihoods of people in this part of the word.

In order to tame cooking oil prices, Pakistan needs to convert this crisis into an opportunity by incentivising cultivation of edible oil. Neighbouring India is doing the same and has succeeded in increasing domestic production.

It is a sheer lack of good governance that no specialised department exists in the public sector both at federal as well as provincial levels for the systematic promotion of oilseed crops in the country.

With Pakistan Oilseed Development Board’s (PODB) scope remaining drastically limited at national level and non-establishment of similar institutions at provincial levels following passage of 18th Amendment, all development work on edible oil sector came to a standstill.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 31, 2022 at 4:25pm

What is happening to Pakistan’s green stimulus?
New climate change minister Sherry Rehman has given her assurance that Pakistan will remain serious about conservation.

https://www.eco-business.com/news/what-is-happening-to-pakistans-gr...

Wajahat Shah, 32, is a labourer at a government-run tree plantation, spread over 3,000 hectares of army land in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. “Ten days after the government announced the lockdown due to coronavirus, I had to close my grocery shop,” Shah told The Third Pole.

The plantation is part of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, the flagship initiative of the recently ousted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. The project has been a lifesaver for up to 85,000 residents like Shah, Mohammad Usman Khan, a forest officer, said.

Before Covid-19, Shah earned as much as 25,000 Pakistani rupees (USD 129) a month from his shop. Now, his work at the plantation gives him PKR 15,000 (USD 77), and he also receives a small monthly rent from his shop, which is being run by someone else.

“I know this is much less, but our family of three has fewer needs [now]; I also prefer working outdoors,” he said, adding that this way he gets time to study for his bachelor’s degree.

However, forest officer Khan admitted that turning 3,000 hectares of barren army land into an oasis, growing olive, ziziphus lotus, rosewood, acacia trees and more, is too big a task for the 50 labourers the plantation employs. The government’s hands, he explained, were tied due to lack of funds.

The area – 32 kilometres from Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – has plenty of water, with groundwater drawn from solar-powered tubewells, but not enough manpower. “We should have at least eight labourers for every 40 hectares,” said Khan, adding that it may not be possible to green the area without more staff.

A ‘booster dose’ for conservation
Pakistan’s Green Stimulus, a USD 120 million loan from the World Bank, was conceived as a “booster dose” for this and similar nature-based projects, said former minister for climate change, Malik Amin Aslam, using a Covid-19 analogy.

The money, originally earmarked for a project by the Pakistan Meteorological Department, was redirected to nature restoration in response to hardship created by Covid-19, Aslam said.

Speaking to The Third Pole on 29 April following Imran Khan’s removal as prime minister, he said he feared the package may face delays.

These “nature-positive funds” Aslam said, referring to the Green Stimulus package, were “literally within arm’s reach”, with the first tranche to be released by 15 April. “The first phase was ready for rollout – when we ourselves got prematurely rolled out!” he rued.

Pakistan’s Green Stimulus fits within the scope of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, a framework focused on reversing ecosystem loss to fight the climate crisis. It “was meant to protect nature and give green jobs to thousands of people including youth and women”, Aslam explained.

Now with Pakistan in political turmoil, Aslam feared that “all efforts to protect nature and give green jobs may well go down the drain”.

New minister wants to continue Pakistan’s green stimulus
Aslam’s concerns may be unfounded. Sherry Rehman, the new climate change minister, told The Third Pole that the grant will remain available to Pakistan. The World Bank, she explained, is supporting the country, not a particular administration under a certain party, so the agreement still stands.

The Third Pole contacted the World Bank about the status of the loan; a reply had not been received at the time of publication.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 31, 2022 at 4:27pm

What is happening to Pakistan’s green stimulus?
New climate change minister Sherry Rehman has given her assurance that Pakistan will remain serious about conservation.

https://www.eco-business.com/news/what-is-happening-to-pakistans-gr...

According to the agreement, a body called the National Disaster & Risk Management Fund will receive the funds and distribute them to various departments. Eleven projects have already been vetted and approved by the bank.

“The MoCC [Ministry of Climate Change] would like to continue with [the Green Stimulus] initiative and adopt any course correction in future if necessary,” Rehman said.

Upon taking office, however, she was expecting the ministry to be more than “a single project implementation department” dedicated solely to planting trees.

“[The MoCC] is essentially a policy ministry, not a project implementation department,” she pointed out, detailing her vision of the climate change ministry, which includes policy design, monitoring provinces and engaging internationally with the global community to press Pakistan’s case as a low net polluter.

But above all, Rehman said, “[the ministry] needs Pakistan to engage in a public conversation on conservation and climate goals through state and community action”.

She noted the absence of a climate communication cell at the ministry, as well as the fact that the federal secretary’s post remains vacant. And when it comes to gender, she added, “institutional frameworks in Pakistan are inadvertently designed to preserve inequity”.

The Climate Council, a forum where representatives for the provinces meet to discuss and cooperate on frameworks for climate action, has been dormant with not a single meeting held in the past four years, she added. “All this needs to change,” she said.

Acknowledging that Rehman would have a “good idea” of the country’s needs and priorities on the climate front, Aslam cautioned that “implementation and focus” require political ownership and the understanding and backing needed at the highest level “may be missing in this administration”.

Domestic reform is the new priority
Aslam said adopting the “two-pronged approach of using clean energy transition and nature-based solutions” is essential. Reversing targets set by the previous government, he warned, will not only have ecological but economic and social consequences that Pakistan can ill afford.

He said he hoped the present government “can comprehend this and take the logical way forward towards climate compatible development”.

However, Rehman commented that she worried that Pakistan has been put in a “commitment trap” where, at the international level, “it has promised far more than it can even measure, let alone deliver”.

“While commitments to lower emissions were made abroad, no infrastructure or institutional reform was attempted at home for a genuine energy transition,” she pointed out.

And despite the “existential” nature of the crisis, no awareness was built either at a policymaking or a community level. “No work or public messaging on water deficits were made,” said Rehman, even though Pakistan will be water-scarce by 2025, according to the UN. “It seems that climate solutions have been reduced to tree plantation only.”


Comment by Riaz Haq on June 15, 2022 at 10:03am

Indonesia to provide 2.5m metric tons of #palm #oil to #Pakistan on urgent basis. First ship carrying 30,000 metric tons of oil from Indonesia left for Pakistan on Tuesday. #edibleoil #cookingoil #palmoil


ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) - Ten ships of edible oil will arrive in Pakistan in the next two weeks from Indonesia and Malaysia.

After successful negotiations of Pakistani delegation that visited Indonesia, it was agreed between the two countries that Indonesia will provide 2.5 million metric tons of edible oil to Pakistan on urgent basis.

According to a statement released today by Prime Minister’s Office, the delegation visited Indonesia on the directions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Earlier, the Prime Minister talked to the Indonesian President Joko Widodo in this regard.

The first ship carrying 30,000 metric tons of edible oil from Indonesia will leave for Pakistan on Tuesday.

https://dunyanews.tv/en/Business/655987-Indonesia-provide-2-5m-metr...

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