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OILS AND FATS

North-East has potential to emerge as largest oil palm cultivator in India
Monday, 10 August, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
OPDPA (Oil Palm Developers and Processors Association), the nodal agency for oil palm cultivation in India, lauds the message by PM Narendra Modi for recognising the need and importance of being self-reliant in edible oil, and asking farmers and state governments of north east to pursue oil palm cultivation. His message clearly underpins the benefits of oil palm cultivation to the overall Atmanirbhar Bharat agenda as well as its potential to help with the growth story of the region.

PM has recommended the state governments of north east region to set up oil palm missions in their respective states to promote cultivation. The setting up of these missions will help boost the ecosystem as well increase focus for the adoption of the crop. This cultivation can tremendously boost the economy of the region leading to large scale development and progress.

Commenting on the progressive step taken by the government, Sanjay Goenka, president of OPDPA, said, “The expanse of oil palm cultivation in the country is very negligible today as compared to the potential the crop possesses. We have seen the transformation this crop has brought about in the lives of farmer community in Andhra Pradesh and we hope to emulate the same in the north-eastern states as well.”

“A strong and robust long-term policy mechanism needs to be introduced to give this crop the required push across India. Given the Prime Minister’s Atmanirbharta vision, India can truly achieve its goal of self-sufficiency in edible oils by pushing for development in the oil palm plantation sector,” he added.

In the northeast, the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have tremendous scope for undertaking and increasing area under oil palm. The agro-climatic conditions of the region are extremely suitable for oil palm cultivation and therefore, the region has the potential to cover over 2,00,000 acre. Equivalent to $1 billion of imports can be prevented.

Members of the OPDPA, Including 3F Oil Palm, have already set up base and are working closely with the state governments of NE to create awareness on the benefits of the crop. A pioneer in oil palm cultivation in the country, currently operates in Arunachal Pradesh and has already covered over 5,000 acre of area under the lower Debang valley district of Arunachal Pradesh. Plans are in the pipeline to set up a state-of-the-art processing facility with a captive power plant.

The crop is highly remunerative crop that has the potential to provide the highest return on investment per acre compared to other commercial crops. Farmers in Andhra Pradesh are a living testimony to the far-reaching benefits of this crop for their livelihoods and future.

India is heavily dependent on imported edible oils, with nearly 15 million tonne (or nearly 68 per cent) of edible oils getting imported to meet the country’s annual requirement of about 22 million tonne. Of the total 15 million tonne of import, about 9 million tonne (or nearly 60 per cent) is palm oils.

Goenka said, “The industry is in need of several reforms to maintain its viability and attract further investments in various states of India. OPDPA has been aggressively pursuing the agenda with the government to bring in structural policy changes which will greatly propel the industry to new growth levels. With the policy changes proposed by us, we can truly achieve our PM’s vision of Atmanirbharta in edible oils.”

Key demands by the association
Stable pricing mechanism to be put in place for protecting the Indian oil palm farmer from fluctuations in price of the produce and continue to motivate him to grow the crop. A fixed MSP mechanism as suggested by the draft CACP report of 2018, will go a long way in this regard.

A special package for the north-east will quickly help the country in bringing large areas under oil palm plantation (including making available unutilised government land to oil palm companies for captive oil palm plantation).
 
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