Olive tree is an ancient tree that has existed for more than 6,000 years and still very potent up till today. It is native to Tropical Asia, Central Asia, Mediterranean regions and many parts of Africa. Olive is now grown for profits, with the introduction of hybrid Olive seedlings large commercial olive farming can be achieved. The major producers of olive oil is Spain, followed by Italy then Greece. Point of note, Greece is the highest consumer of Olive oil.
It is a tree/shrub that has edible, therapeutic and medicinal character. The main producers of Olive are; Greece, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Syria, Morocco and Tunisia. Olive plant represent so many things to different people; it is seen as a symbol of peace, fertility, pureness and glory. It can adapt to certain temperatures depending on their variety, some are sub tropical and others can be grown in humid conditions.
They are many varieties of olive the main interest here is the kalamata olive from Greece. It spread from Greece to Italy and some parts of the Mediterranean region. Kalamata Olive matures and bear fruits within 4 years, it produces two important oil; olive oil and table oil. Olive oil is the most demanded out of the two about 80-90% compare to table Olive. It has almond shape with dark purple shinning skin colour. And are commonly preserved in olive oil, red wine or in vinegar form. It has a smoky and fruity flavour.
OLIVE FARMING IN NIGERIA
Olive oil is highly consumed in Nigeria mostly for religious reasons. It is only few churches that are not using Olive oil majority of the churches that use them sometimes don’t have enough to go round during special programmes. Once it has been blessed in church it is no more called Olive oil but anointing oil.
Because of the gap between demand and supply that is yet to be breach some entrepreneurs has resorted to using chemicals to produce Olive oil. But you know what! It can never be compared to the one that is virgin and natural. Their characteristics or properties can’t be exactly the same.
It is for these reasons we are calling on entrepreneurs to invest more into farming Olive not only for local consumption but for export as well. The health benefits of Olive oil is growing globally and consumption is rising too so you can join Olive farmers to grow It too. Olive farming is not difficult, with hybrid Olive seedlings you can grow and manage olive plantation with less water for dry areas and with only rain water for wet regions.
The soil should be a well drained sandy loam soil rich in organic matters. Olive can tolerate mild saline conditions but salty soil should be avoided. Stay away from water log areas it doesn’t support Olive farming. Clear the soil and mechanised it very well to loosen the soil clogs. Olive seedling requires a deepness of 1.0-1.5m because of their shallow root system. A PH of 6.5-8.5 is ideal for optimum growth.
Olive planting can be done in two ways; through seed cultivation or cutting. The seeds should be soaked in chemical (caustic soda), wash the chemical off very well and plant immediately in an already prepared bed that is raised. Seed spacing is 5cm, use 15cm between two rows. Planting time is between April and May. A spacing of 80cmx80cm will accommodate 156 seedlings in a hectare.
Propagation through cuttings: cut stump 10-15cm thickness, it should have 3-4 nodes from the parent plant. Root will emerge within 7-8 weeks of planting. It can also be called semi dwarf rootstocks the distance should be 6-7m this way you will get 250-300 trees in a hectare. 8 weeks before planting dig a pit of 60cmx60cm pour farmyard manure into the pits. Remove any damaged roots before planting.
The planting system can be; triangular, square or contour systems. Staking of Olive seedling should be done during the first and second year of planting.
IRRIGATION IN OLIVE FARMING
Olive crops are draught resistant even though they are not desert plant. Watering should be done regularly during dry season no need to water during raining season except were there is serious draught. It will prevent the plant from dyeing due to adverse heat from long dryness and will help in yield increase.
But during fruit setting and oil accumulation you have to avoid water stress especially if you cultivated the Olive plant for oil production. Stop irrigating when it is a week to harvest. In other to prevent accumulation of high moisture content in the fruit which can lead to difficulty during oil extraction. The best irrigation system to use is drip irrigation.
Top dressing with organic matter such as green compost manure, farmyard manure should be done when appropriate. Avoid applying compost or inorganic close to the trunk of the tree. 10kg of farm yard manure should be applied per tree while 7:5:5 of NPK should be used.
Apply water immediately after broadcasting inorganic manure. Fertiliser should be applied lightly during growing season.
WEEDING IN OLIVE FARMING
Weeding should be done just like any other farming. It can done thrice a year depending on the nature of weed. You can use chemical to kill the weeds but with utmost care so that it doesn’tA affect the plant.
There is need to thin Olive fruits when the sizes are very big especially for table Olive variety.
PRUNING IN OLIVE FARMING
Pruning should be done immediately after harvest in other to encourage new growth. Wounded and dead branches should regularly be removed. Pruning is very important in Olive farming because it helps the plant to take shape, develop strong shoots and also for the plant to have easy access during harvest.
Olive tree can be pruned in 3 different ways:
Regulated pruning: It helps in developing the tree’s frame especially during the tree’s first year of life.
Pruning during fruiting: it aims at inducing productive branches to form fruits in the process leave the structured branches unaffected. Pruning is also good in maintaining uniform productivity in regards to quality and yield. A process that favours table Olive varieties the more.
Renovating pruning: it stimulates sprouting in order to regenerate ageing trees.
- Mission Olive: suited for black table Olive production and olive oil. It is easily adaptable.
- Kalamata: good for black table oil, it is traceable to Greece. They are difficult to propagate, less adaptable than the mission variety.
- Maurino: good for the production of high quality Olive.
- Baroni: suited only for green table Olive production due to its large fruit size and low oil
Root rot, Olive knot, leaf spot, Diplodia canker, Wilting, Phytophthora can be controlled by the use of pesticides. Plant resistant varieties.
OLIVE FARMING PROFITS
Profits in olive farming depends on certain variables such as:
- Farming method
- Olive variety
- Oil yield
- Harvest time
- And the terrain used
A mature olive tree can produce 15-20kg of olives every year for the traditional olive trees. One Olive tree will produce approximately 4 litres of oil in a year because 5kg of Olive will produce a litre of Olive oil. In my area 5ml of Olive oil goes for #500.
Olives fruits that are matured and have attain full size which are to be processed as green Olive should be picked while still green. The fruits should be cured by soaking in water for a while in other to remove bitter ingredients. There are different ways of curing Olive fruits; saline solution, salt curing, water curing. The fruits should be carefully handled to avoid abrasion and bruising because they are fragile.
Harvest should be done at the right time especially the ones for oil production. Immature fruit will give less oil. Moisture content should be 50%; use freshly harvested olives of 24-48 hours in processing extra virgin Olive oli. Delayed harvest will result in fruits with oil of higher acidity. So harvesting at the right time will produce fruits that will yield oil with pleasant aroma (smell) that is not bitter.
Flowering, fruiting and maturity is on the 4th year. Average yield is 7-12 tons a hectare.
IMPORTANCE OF OLIVE OIL
- It reduces the risk of diabetes by controlling blood sugar and enhancing insulin sensitivity.
- Helps in burning excessive fat
- Defends immune system
- It is a beauty treatment, often you will see Olive Relaxer, olive lotion etc. Good for skin care.
- Helps in digestion
- It fights cancer because of its antioxidants property
- Good for digestion by handling constipation.
Olive farming is a good way of making money in the long term. It can live for more than 100 years and still be bearing fruits. There is large market opportunity for Olive oil business in the international market. US are the 3rd consumers of Olive oil but can only produce 4% of it at most while importing others.
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