After eight years of harnessing olive saplings brought from Israel, Rajasthan is all set to launch next month its own brand olive oil, which it claims, will be the country's first indigenously-produced brand. "The state will be launching its olive oil under the brand 'Raj Olive Oil' at the Global Rajasthan Agri-tech Meet (GRAM)," state Agriculture Minister Prabhu Lal Saini said. After the product's launch, the state will work on avenues to market it and seek cooperation from experts to increase its production.
According to agriculture officials, the state till date has auctioned more than nine tonnes of olive oil and plans to market 4,500 litres under 'Raj Olive' at GRAM through Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Limited (ROCL)- a venture of the state government, India-based Finolex Plasson Industries, and Indolive Industries of Israel. Rajasthan's tryst with olives began in 2008 with 1.12 lakh saplings brought from Israel and grown here. The saplings were planted in 182 hectares of government farms in seven agri- climatic zones - Bassi, Bakalia, Santhu, Barore, Tinkirudi, Lunkaransar and Bsabasina villages. "After eight years, cultivation has spread across 800 hectares in the state and we will be launching India's first indigenously-produced olive oil brand," ROCL managing director Yogesh Verma said.
"The state took help from Israel to start cultivations because Rajasthan shared similar climatic conditions. Seven varieties were planted in the farms. Currently our fruits have oil content of more than 14 per cent, which meets international standards," he said.
ROCL started transferring saplings to farmers in 2009 and till date has produce 11,574 kg of olive oil with Ganganagar, Bikaner, Hanumangarh and Nagore districts being the largest producers. Rajasthan has seen a growing demand for olive cultivation among farmers with the fruit giving higher returns per hectare, besides the subsidies they get after the government declared it the state's 'first plantation crop'.
"Demand for olive farming is gradually increasing. While traditional crops like bajra and wheat fetch farmers less than Rs 1 lakh annually, olives can give three to four times," Verma said.