What it takes to be a celebrity in India: Film star, Cricketer or the Prime Minister. But lesser come to limelight the people like Sahibram, 52, who comes from a village of Madera close to the Pakistan border in Rajasthan. For him water scarcity was not an excuse which would stop him from becoming a progressive farmer. Like others his decision to give up wheat and cotton farming served as example and motivation for other marginal farmers to act on government’s call and adopt the olive farming.
It all started back in 2006, when Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje, visited Israel as a part of Central Government’s delegation and was consumed with desire for olive oil production in Thar Desert in India as was progressively followed in Negev Deserts of Israel – a country with half of area under desert.
To convert this pilot project into a major commercially successful venture, a year after in 2007, Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Limited (ROCL) was constituted in collaboration with the Government of Rajasthan along Rajasthan State Agriculture Marketing Board, Finolex Plasson Industries Limited and Indolive Limited of Israel came under one roof to give olive production a chance in Rajasthan.
A massive response to Government’s call to farmers to adopt olive farming, Rajasthan in 2017 is set to launch ‘Olitia, the Olive Tea’ ̶ country’s first indigenously produced green tea alternative. The state has already received proposals for MoUs from the UK, the USA and the Gulf countries, informs Prabhu Saini, the state agriculture minister who also holds a PhD in agriculture.
Rajasthan has about 1,000 hectares of olive trees and plans to increase olive cultivation to over 5,000 hectares over the next three years. Farmers have started earning about Rs 3-4 lakh per acre from olive cultivation against Rs 1 lakh from growing the traditional bajra or millet.
Seven varieties of olives – Barnea, Arbequina, Cortina, Coronoiki, Frontio, Picual and Picholine – are adopted to be grown in Rajasthan. However, five have proved to be particularly successful in the state’s harsh climate.
As both Israel and Rajasthan have similar climatic conditions and face water scarcity, the state government of Rajasthan is seeking maximum support from Israel companies. In Israel per hectare yield is among the highest in the world. Using minimum water and maximum output is something very much needed in Rajasthan too.
Israel has many success stories in the development of dry land farming on the basis of many scientific and technological inputs and their management. India too has to her credit age-old success of dry land farming but the recent Green Revolution has opened many areas of success and failure.
It needs a thorough probe and also makes a case for transfer of scientific ideas and understanding of a balanced management to Rajasthan from the Israel, which is very keen for friendly relation. It could be both government to government as well as it could be people to people interaction.
Approximately 170 collaboration agreements between Indian and Israeli companies have been signed in areas such as drip irrigation, greenhouse technology, floriculture and horticulture.
Sahibram, who started olive farming in his 10 hectares of land has became a role model for farmers of his region. Today his district has around 200 Hectares of land under olive production.
“More the farmers will adopt innovation, more he will attain the economic progress” Sabharam in his success story says.