Uri awaits Govt’s olive branch
URI: Suitable climatic condition of Uri in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district may have made the high-value Mediterranean olive cultivation possible in the area, but the lack of facilities is playing a spoilsport.
Sharing his experiences, Gurpinder Singh, a grower from Nowpora Salamabad, Uri, said that the lack of support from the Horticulture department has resulted in little olive oil yield.
He said that if the department conducted awareness camps in the area, it would have encouraged more and more people for olive cultivation. “Undoubtedly, it has huge economic benefits. However, due to lack of awareness and support of the concerned department, the production has been low,” he said.
Another grower alleged that no concrete step had been taken by the authorities to ensure basic facilities like irrigation which was a core necessity for olive production. “A proper irrigation system is important for olive cultivation. Despite our repeated pleas to the authorities for adequate irrigation facilities, nothing is being done,” he said.
Highlighting another issue, he said that the growlers were facing hardships in getting olive plants and had to often travel to Ramban in Jammu to get the plant.
“The government must ensure availability of the plant here,” Javed Iqbal, a grower said.
Around two decades ago, the Department of Horticulture established a nursery of olive plants at Salamabad, Uri.
Chief Horticulture Officer, Baramulla, Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, “The olive plant nursery at Uri, which is spread over 20 kanal, is generating one quintal of olive oil. The production can increase once the irrigation facility is made possible.”
An official of the Horticulture department said that Uri area had a vast potential for olive oil production owing to suitable climatic conditions like less snowfall in winter and overall warm climatic conditions.
However, he said that the biggest issue was the lack of irrigation facilities besides technological support. He said if the state administration would concentrate on this aspect “we can have a tremendous success story”.
Anticipating a good future for olive plant growers in Uri, Javed Iqbal said little effort from the administration could change the fortune of the Uri area.
He said that the administration needs to take a cue from the Rajasthan government which had grown olive plants in a barren terrain.
“The Rajasthan government showed a keen interest in olive oil cultivation and after taking support of the technology, the state is now selling olive oil domestically,” Iqbal said.
The olive oil is considered to have tremendous health benefits as it is rich in oleic acid which can help prevent heart diseases.