Climate Change: Pakistan plans to cultivate 50 million olive trees

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By Muhammad Luqman

As part of its efforts to combat the challenge of climate
change, Pakistan is launching a program to cultivate 50 million olive trees in
drought-hit parts of the country especially the Potohar plateau region.

“We are fully supporting the initiative of Prime Minister
Imran Khan’s adviser on climate change in this regard. Olive tree, being a lazy
plant, does not need much care and water,” Federal Secretary for Food Security,
Dr. Hashim Popalzai told newsmen during his  recent visit to Barani  Agriculture 
Research Institute (BARI) in Chakwal district.

He said that Food Security Ministry will fully cooperate
with climate change ministry that has already rolled out a viable national plan
to cultivate 50 million olive trees as part of the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami
programme.

This will be carried out in consultation with provincial and
federal stakeholders on an urgent basis, targeting small farmers in particular,
in areas hit by drought in Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,.

Popalzai said that the olive tree plantation at a large
scale would be boosted with the construction of rainwater harvesting storage
ponds in these areas, as well as the use of efficient irrigation technologies
and practices.

Rain dependent regions, including the Potohar region, can be
turned into ‘fruit basket’ by promoting olive tree plantation where the
agriculture sector is struggling with frequent drought conditions and a
shortage of water for irrigation, he said.

This initiative will aim to control soil erosion in parched
lands, promoting soil conservation, increasing tree cover in drought-hit areas
and boost the production of olive on a local basis to offset local climate
change impacts as well as reduce the burden of the edible oil import bill on
the national exchequer.

Pakistan spends US $ 3.5 billion to import edible oil , mainly palm oil to meet the cooking oil needs  of it burgeoning population of over 200 million.

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