Olive oil consumption has increased five times from last ten years and there is large probability for enhancing its acceptability due to high value index, Minister of State Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said while opening a two days olive work shop on “Olive Research and Development in India” in Srinagar recently.
He said, “India is importing about 68% of cooking oil and thus there is the challenge for farmers and scientists to decrease the import of cooking oil and make the availability of the cooking oil sufficient to feed the nation.”
“ It becomes challenge for scientists to produce the quality planting material and work on different research aspects of olive for making it a success story for several states in the nation. India has a vast potential for olive cultivation which need to be tapered by the joint efforts of scientists and farmers,” the Minister added.
The workshop was organsied by Oilseeds Division, Department of Agriculture and Corporation & Farmers Welfare and ICAR-Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture Srinagar from October 24-25, 2017, in Srinagar.
Shekhawat, in his inaugural address gave the projections of agriculture production and productivity of the country to meet the demand of the nation. He pointed out the role of research and development for combating the challenges faced the farmers in past like Bengal famine.
The country’s olive oil imports are growing at a fast clip – from about 14,000 MT in 2013, imports are projected to shoot up to 42,000 MT by 2025 as more and more Indians choose olive oil for its health benefits. Olives are rich in oleic acid, which can help prevent heart diseases. A deterrent to greater consumption has been its price – an imported one litre bottle of extra virgin can cost between Rs 800 and Rs 1,000. A domestically produced one can be cheaper.
India has a vast potential for olive cultivation which need to be tapered by the joint efforts of scientists and farmers, he added. The Minister appreciated the efforts made by the scientists of ICAR-CITH, Srinagar for the olive cultivation under Kashmir conditions a success story.
Rajasthan is yet another success story in terms of Olive Farming. Currently, Rajasthan is the leading state for Olive cultivation in the country. Since, 2013 till 2016, the state has extracted in total 11574.09 kgs of olive oil.
Initially, the state had started the olive plantation on a total area of 182 hectares on government farms. The olive plantation has also reached upto 425.18 ha on farmer’s fields. Seven olive farms are developed in various parts of the state. The state had got seven different olive varieties namely Barnea (Origin Israel; purpose: Oil), Arbequina (Origin: Spain; Purpose: Oil), Cortina (Origin Italy; Purpose: Oil), Picholine (Origin France; Purpose: Dual), Picual (Origin Spain; Purpose: Oil), Koroneiki (Origin Greece; Purpose: Oil) & Frantoio (Origin Tuscany, Italy; Purpose: Oil) were imported from Israel.
Rajasthan’s tryst with olives and its success can now inspire more states to adopt cultivation of this tree, especially on barren terrain. That could have huge implications on the livelihood of people in the region.