Olive cultivation is set to take off in northern Rajasthan. After successful field trials over past three years in the State-owned farms, the Rajasthan Government plans to promote olive cultivation in private farms starting February with a buy-back arrangement.
The State has decided to take the cluster approach to promote olive cultivation in about 300 hectares next year said the COO of Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Ltd (ROCL)´ representative. ROCL's stakeholders include the Rajasthan State Agriculture Marketing Board, Plastro Plasson Industries and Indolive Ltd, an Israeli agri-consultancy firm.
Six clusters of 50 hectares each will be formed in districts such as Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Bikaner and Nagaur. In the next three years, the State plans to bring about 5,000 hectares under olives, which has a great demand in both domestic and export market. India's olive oil imports, driven by the rising awareness of health-foods grew 52 per cent to 3,988 tonnes in 2010 according to the Indian Olive Association. Olive imports for table top consumption grew 46 per cent to 637 tonnes in 2010.
“Cluster approach will help us provide free technical consultancy for the first three years, without any hassles,” he said. Typically, an olive plant starts yielding fruits from fourth year onwards. Farmers, who can plant 523 olive seedlings in a hectare, are free to grow intercrops like pulses such as green gram and gram among others, he said.
ROCL plans to start distributing seedlings to farmers from the February-March next. The Government will offer a subsidy of 75 per cent towards the planting material. The subsidised cost of each seedling works out to Rs 28.75, while its original cost is Rs 115. Besides, a farmer will also be provided a 90 per cent subsidy on the drip irrigation equipment and offered consultancy services for processing.
“There is a tremendous interest from farmers seeking crop diversification. We are trying to promote it in the vicinity of those areas, where we have already grown olives,” Mr Sekhawat said. At the recent FarmTech 2011, organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Rajasthan Government in Jaipur, knowhow on olive cultivation was the most sought after information at the agri-fair.