BEIJING: Pakistan attach great importance to deepening and expanding cooperation in the agriculture sector under the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Therefore, the technical cooperation in olive cultivation and olive oil production should be the focus of agricultural cooperation between China and Pakistan.
These views were expressed by Cheng Xizhong, Visiting Professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law and Senior Fellow of the Charhar Institute here on Thursday.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said large-scale olive cultivation would prove to be the best investment for Pakistan in terms of earning valuable foreign exchange, creating employment opportunities and ensuring food security while addressing the launch of nationwide olive cultivation drive starting from Nowshera.
“Pakistan has immense potential in cultivation of olive trees owing to suitable topography and climate from north to south. Olive is a subtropical evergreen tree, cold and drought resistant, as well as a long-lived tree with strong growth capacity. Therefore, water scarce areas such as Suleiman Mountains near Waziristan, plains in Balochistan and diverse terrain in Punjab offer environment for low-irrigation olive farming, ” he said in an article published by CEN.
He opined that if olives are planted on all arable land in Pakistan, the country could become one of the world’s leading olive oil producers and exporters.
Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly stressed the importance of national security, including food security. On Wednesday, he said it was time for Pakistan to get a stronghold of national security by expanding its domain inclusive of climate change, economic stability and food security, besides focusing on defense preparation.
In the post-pandemic era, food security is a global challenge, and all countries in the world attach great importance to it. As one of the most populous countries in the world, Pakistan puts more emphasis on food security. This is a manifestation of the forward-looking and strategic thinking of the Pakistani government.
Cheng Xizhong informed that in recent years, Guangyuan City of Sichuan Province has planted more than about 7, 000 hectares of olive trees, which has become an important olive planting base in China. China’s olive tree planting and olive oil production technology is leading in the world, and China and Pakistan can carry out extensive cooperation in this regard.
With a population of 1.4 billion, China is the most populous country in the world. China’s olive oil is mainly imported. According to the data of the General Administration of Customs, China’s olive oil imports in 2019 were 53, 699 tons, up 35.64% year on year.
Currently, olive brands from Spain and Italy are highly recognized in the Chinese markets. With the large-scale cultivation of olive trees in Pakistan and the close technical cooperation between China and Pakistan in this regard, China could be one of the potential markets for Pakistani olive products in the future, which could also help reduce trade deficit between the two countries.