PESHAWAR: Member Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Faisal Amin Khan Sunday said the provincial government is taking practical steps for growing more olive trees in merged tribal districts.

In an interview, the provincial lawmaker stated that there was immense potential in merged districts to plant wild olives with better varieties.

He said Pakistan spends billions of dollars on oil imports. He said local solutions are available, which need to be tapped to save the country’s resources, reduce dependence on imports and promote exports.

Faisal Amin Khan said South Waziristan tribal district has been included in the Pakistan Olive and Agriculture Khyber Pakhtunkhwa programme. He said the areas of Frontier Region of Dera Ismail Khan, Tank district, erstwhile FR Tank, Shaikh Badin hills, Lakki district and surrounding areas are being covered. He said potential of olive trees plantation was huge which is being tapped.

The olive production in merged districts will not only reduce Pakistan’s dependence on imported oil, but also it will reduce the impact of climate change and bring a positive impact on the overall environment of the region.

Farmers in Bajaur tribal district are also switching to planting olive trees after coming to know about its benefits.

The Agriculture Department of Bajaur says about 400,000 olive plants have been planted in Salarzai, Barang, Charmang, Utmankhel and Khar tehsils since 2008. It says the local people did not take much interest in growing olive trees, but now they are coming in large number to seek guidance of the Agriculture Department for this purpose.

Agriculture expert Muhammad Yousaf said while talking to TNN that there is a large number of wild olive plants in Bajaur and the first priority of the department is to draft good quality saplings in these plants. He said initially when the process was started in 2008, the local people considered it a futile exercise, but when they realised the benefit of the drafting, they are now coming in large number to the agriculture office with demanding of quality saplings.

Bajaur Agriculture Department Field Assistant Officer Abdul Baseer says olive tree only requires 5.5mm water in a year. He said the department will plant more olive trees in area which are facing water shortage.