Special Correspondent

Aimed at popularising olive oil in food preparations

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan State Agricultural Marketing Board on Saturday signed a tripartite agreement with two Israeli companies to promote cultivation of olive trees in the desert State.

State Agriculture Minister Prabhulal Saini said olive would be cultivated on 210 hectares of Government land at 10 different locations which correspond identically to soil and temperature in Israel at a cost of Rs. 10 crore.

Board administrator Vipin Chandra Sharma signed the agreement with the representatives of Plasstro and Plasstro Plasson Industries. While the Board and Plasstro Plasson Industries will hold 50 per cent equity each in the newly-formed company, Plasstro will supply technical know-how for the project.

Mr. Saini said the project was aimed at popularising use of olive oil in food preparations by making the usually expensive oil more affordable to the common man. He said farmers would be involved in the project if its execution on the Government land proved successful.

The Minister said the first Rajasthan-Israel partnership would involve value addition in the shape of oil extraction from olive drupes for which a factory would be established in the State. The oil would be purchased by the Israeli companies. Oil prices offered to farmers would match those prevailing in the international market.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had witnessed olive cultivation in the desert regions of Israel during her recent visit to that country. The environmental conditions of Rajasthan and Israel are stated to be similar, which may help in successful cultivation of olive trees.

The Board had earlier provided on lease 100 acres of land in Bassi, near here, to an Israeli firm to train local farmers in the use of drip irrigation equipment.