January 24, 2016 11:53:39 am
A day after the International Conference on Olive and Jojoba in Jaipur, the Rajasthan government has announced that olive and date palm cultivation in the state would be made completely organic.
Agriculture minister Prabhu Lal Saini said the state government would promote olive and jojoba plantations on warfooting in the new year and introduce products like olive leaf tea and olive fruit, besides oil under the Raj Olive brand.
“The new plantations will all be organic only. We will try to convert the existing plantations to organic (farming) but that will take some time. We will also introduce new varieties of organic olive plants, which will yield fruit for salad, tea and other purposes, besides the existing oil producing varieties,” “ Saini told The Indian Express.
With agriculture in the state being primarily rain-fed, the Rajasthan government has been encouraging farmers, especially those in the arid Western and Northern regions, to cultivate exotic plant species like olive, jojoba, dragon fruit and date palms—that need comparitively less water—in order to make cultivation profitable.
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The state also provides subsidy for olive farming in 11 arid and semi-arid districts, namely Jaisalmer, Nagaur, Churu, Ganganagar, Jaipur, Bikaner, Hanumangarh, Jhunjhunu, Alwar, Tonk and Baran. Farmers cultivating the crop get Rs48,000 per hectare for the first year and Rs 3,400 per hectare for three years thereafter.
“We want farmers to produce, process, add value to and market their produce. It is time Rajasthan comes to be known for more than just bajra,” said Saini. The state now plans to formally declare olive as a plantation crop to attract foreign direct investment.
At the international conference concluded Thursday, Saini said the state would also experiment with growing dragon fruit and pistachios.
Dragon fruit or pitaya, native to Mexico and grown extensively in South-East Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia, will be grown on an experimental basis at the agriculture department’s centre of excellence at Bassi and at Deorawas near Tonk. “If successful, the project will be replicated in districts of western Rajasthan,” he said.
Rajasthan will also collaborate with Sikkim, sharing its own know-how on olive farming and dairy, while attempting to benefit from the mountain state’s expertise in floriculture.
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