Harvesting liquid gold – On Olive oil cultivation in India | 5 August 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • This article discusses the growth and potential of olive cultivation in India.


  • GS3: Major Crops – Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country;
  • Essay;
  • Prelims


  • Introduction to Olive Cultivation in India:
    • Organized olive production in India began in 2007 with the importation of saplings from the Israeli company Indolive. The Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture in Kashmir has been studying the behavior of olive trees in the climatic conditions of the Kashmir Valley since 2008. The first harvest in Rajasthan took place in 2012, and commercial oil production started in 2013.
  • Global Consumption and Market Size of Olive Oil: 
    • The global consumption of olive oil is around 3 million tonnes per year, with major consumers including Europe, the US, Brazil, Canada, Japan, China, and Australia.
    • The global olive oil market was valued at $14.20 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $19 billion by 2030.
    • In India, olive oil currently represents only 0.14% of the edible oils sold, but its imports have nearly quadrupled in the past decade. The Indian olive oil market is estimated to reach $200 million by 2030.
  • Advantages of Olive Cultivation:
    • Olive cultivation has several advantages over other edible oils. Unlike annual crops, olives do not require tilling, planting, and harvesting, reducing the need for inputs like energy, fertilizer, and labor.
    • Olive cultivation also prevents erosion of topsoil, captures atmospheric carbon throughout the year, and increases biological diversity by hosting predators of insect pests. However, olive cultivation is a long-term investment, as it takes several years for trees to reach maturity and produce olives in significant quantities.
  • Challenges and Economic Potential of Olive Cultivation in India:
    • The article also highlights the challenges and economic potential of olive cultivation in India.
    • Olive economics can vary based on location, climate, farming practices, and market conditions.
    • However, the potential returns from olive cultivation can be significant. For example, if each olive plant produces 17 kg of fruit and 20% of that production is converted into olive oil, the yield from an acre of land would be close to 340 liters of oil.
    • Even if the farmer gets Rs 500 per liter, they can earn Rs 1,70,000 per acre. However, there are challenges such as the initial years without income and difficulties in inter-cropping with olives.
  • Concerns about Imported Olive Oil and Need for Testing Mechanisms:
    • The article also raises concerns about the quality of imported extra-virgin olive oil in India and the need for testing mechanisms to ensure the quality of domestic olive oil.
  • Government Initiatives and Future Expansion of Olive Cultivation:
    • The National Mission on Oilseeds has included olive under tree-borne oilseed (TBO), and there are subsidies available for cooperatives and central agencies.
    • The article suggests that the government should pay attention to olive cultivation and expand it to rain-fed areas and desert areas to ensure better economic returns from desert farming.

Way Forward:

  • Thus, focusing on the rising production of olive oil has multiple benefits to both consumers and farmers.

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