Rajasthan is going to become the new oil hub of the world. But not crude oil, the dessert state in India is going to produce olive oil for distribution in India and across other countries. The long dry summers and the cool short winters of Rajasthan is proving to be ideal for the growth of olive trees. This September, Rajasthan Olive cultivation limited will produce the first commercial batch of extra virgin olive oils, posing a commercial threat to Spain and Italy.
Lush green olive trees have been planted in more than 600 acres of land across seven districts of Rajasthan. An olive tree generally takes around 3 to 4 years to bear fruit. The olive fruits first appear green and then as they ripen, change colour to red when they become ready for extraction of oil. This Government funded project has been providing olive seeds to the farmer at subsidized rates. They plan to plant the new found crop in another 5000 hectares of land. ROCL is a joint venture between Rajasthan State Agriculture Board, Plastro Plasson of Pune and Israel’s Indolive Ltd.
Olive oil has gained popularity among Indians in the very recent times. Because of it being rich in nutrients like omega3 fatty acids it is in demand for variety of end uses like cooking, in salad dressing and direct application on skin and hair. Apart from oil, it can also be consumed as a fruit after some processing, like, as pizza toppings or in salads. As of now, Spain, Italy and Greece are the leading producers of olive oil, accounting for more than 70% of the world’s production. Even in India, one mostly finds olive oils in supermarkets which have been imported from these Mediterranean countries and cost around 600 to 700 rupees per litre. Although, being significantly high priced compared to other cooking oils in India, it is mostly consumed by the higher income population. But once we start indigenous production of olive oil, it is expected to be more abundantly and cheaply available.
In the arid climate of Rajasthan, farmers face a tough life. Less rainfall, scarcity of irrigation water and insects are some of the challenges that they face. Cotton, wheat, bajra are the major crops grown in Rajasthan. The farmers are hoping to earn double the money what they get from these basic crops, from cultivation of olives.
So let’s keep our fingers crossed, for olive oil will not only make us Indians healthier, it will also make us richer.