Thousands of olive trees have been grown in Pakistan’s northwestern region – an area once known for terrorism activity following the 9/11 attacks in the USA, Olive Oil Times wrote.
The olive trees were planted in the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan, as part of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project, according to the 28 February report.
According to claims by the government of Pakistan, 83,000 people died due to the insurgency in Afghanistan and military operations conducted in the tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
However, after the federal government launched the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project in 2018, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province administration decided to plant thousands of olives as a symbol of peace in the region, Olive Oil Times reported.
The provincial government’s forestry department had planted around 8,000 olive trees in Amangarh, a vast area of the country with little agricultural activity around 40km northeast of the historic city of Peshawar, the report said.
Pakistan’s federal Ministry of Climate Change also launched the Olive Trees Tsunami Project in 2021, for the planting of 4M ha of olive trees, Olive Oil Times wrote.
After declaring the country’s land and climate suitable for olive tree cultivation, the ministry planned the tree planting in the southern region of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, tribal areas and northern parts of the Punjab province.
Peshawar divisional forest officer Tariq Khadim, who is responsible for Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project in the province, told Olive Oil Times that the 8,000 olive trees – all sourced from the local nursery of the forest department – had been planted on 27ha of land that was suitable for olive growing.
More than 95% of the olive trees had grown successfully during the last two years, Khadim said, despite challenges due to less rainfall and a low underground water level.
“About 112,000 litres of olive oil will be produced annually from this area after the plants start fruit production,” he added.
A further 2,000ha of barren land were allocated for a different plantation under the project, the report said.