While olives and olive oils are often associated with Mediterranean regions, we are seeing large growth in other areas of the world, such as the somewhat unlikely state of Rajasthan, India. Rajasthan is a popular tourist destination, bordering Pakistan, with a vastly arid landscape and a tropical desert climate all year round.
Despite this tropical desert climate, India has experienced positive results in the yielding of their olive crops over the last few years and aims to make Rajasthan the center for the olive trade in India. “At present, the olive cultivation is on 282 hectare land (182 hectares in 7 farms and 100 hectares by other farmers) and our target is to expand it to 5000 hectares of land in next few years,” Agricultural Minister Prabhu Lal Saini said. This expansion will enable the production of roughly 10 million litres which is comparable to approximately 4x that of South Africa’s olive oil production.
According to Saini, the state government is encouraging the effort through a massive increase in the amount of land that will be dedicated to olive tree cultivation and fruit and oil production. The government is also assisting this goal by providing growers with free plants as well as technical support and plans are underway to promote both oil-producing varieties and table olives.
While there is much potential here to export olives and olive oil, it seems that there is also an urgent need for domestic consumption to promote healthier lifestyles, as lower grade cooking oils are mostly used and India has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world.
With the established brand, Raj Olive Oil, “Indian government believes the success of the crop could significantly change the agro-economy of the state within the next two years”.