Rajasthan sets up India's first olive oil refinery

The Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan, which had in its earlier term in 2007, commenced olive cultivation project in the state, also on Friday opened the country's first olive refinery in Lunkaransar area of Bikaner district, to cater to the rising demand for olive oil in the country.

Rajasthan sets up India's first olive oil refineryThe BJP government, in its earlier term in 2007, had commenced olive cultivation in the state with assistance from Israel and planted 1.12 lakh saplings in seven agro-climatic zones, which have started bearing fruit.

For this a company,  Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Limited, was incorporated as a joint venture between the government of Rajasthan through Rajasthan State Agriculture Marketing Board and Plastro Plasson Industries (India) Limited (now Finolex Plasson Industries (India) Limited), Pune andIndolive Limited of Israel having equal partnership.

The company was allocated 282 hectare of land in districts like Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Jhunjhunu for olive plantation with plans to increase the area to 5,000 hectare in coming years, so that the refinery can get more fruits for getting the oil in increased quantity.

The refinery, set up at a cost of Rs3.75 crore, will be used to crush the 80 to 100 tonnes of olive fruits available locally for the first domestic production of olive oil.

The olive oil produced in the refinery will be marked under the brand name of 'Raj Olive Oil' and will be available in markets after some time.

''Rajasthan is leading in the area of olive farming and the first state to set up the refinery. It is a big achievement,'' chief minister Vasundhara Raje said in the inaugural function.

Addressing the inaugural function, Raje said the state government would try to address the issue of lack of water in the area so that farming can be done properly.

Agriculture minister Prabhu Lal Saini said that the current produce of oil fruit is 80 tonnes per annum, which will be increased so that the state can fulfil the demand of oil oil in the country.

''The project of olive farming has been very successful and gave encouraging results with fine quality content in fruit. The state is now at the international level in olive farming,'' he said.

The minister said that the government now plans to promote the olive cultivation, a typically Mediterranean occupation, at mass level in the state.

''During the initial stage, olive oil will be produced and later we will utilise the farm produce in making of cosmetics, medicines and cattle feed,'' Saini said.

Israel Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon congratulated chief minister Raje for the success in a letter.

Seven leading varieties of Barnea, Arbequina, Crotina, Picholine, Picual, Coraniki and Frontoy have been planted in the farms.

Olive is a small tree belonging to the oleaceae family and is found in coastal areas of eastern Mediterranean (Italy and Spain), northern Iraq and northern Iran south of the Caspian Sea.

Its fruit adorns salads, but is used primarily to extract olive oil, one of the most expensive cooking oils.

The best known olive plantations are found in Spain, Italy, Lebanon, Israel, and Greece.