HYDERABAD: Urging Union Minister for Finance and Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman not to levy 30 per cent import duty on oil palm seedlings by including it under ‘palm nuts’ code, Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy suggested that it be kept under the earlier code of ‘fruit seeds for planting and sowing’ as been the case till 2019 when import duty was five per cent. Niranjan Reddy wrote a letter the Union Minister on Tuesday, stating that the farmers could be encouraged to shift to oil palm cultivation, for which the State government has set a target of 20 lakh acre cultivable area in the next three years, if input costs, especially to procure seedlings, were kept low.
He has brought to her notice that in view of the Centre notifying 8.14 lakh acres in 25 districts of Telangana for increasing the area of oil palm cultivation, there was a need for 14.40 crore seedlings which were needed to be planted. Disclosing the need for 2.16 crore seedlings next year itself, he said that because of the increased import duty, cost incurred by the companies supplying seedlings to farmers per seed would go up to Rs 240 to Rs 250 per seed.
This would mean, subsidised seed which would be offered to farmers under the National Food Security Mission’s subsidy on planting material component, which would have cost farmers Rs 15 per seedling, would go up to Rs 84 per seedling, even after availing 85 per cent subsidy. As there were not enough seed nurseries in the country for supplying oil plan seedlings, he said there was no option but to import them from countries like Costa Rica, Thailand, and Malaysia. Increasing the import duty on seedlings would deter farmers from going for oil palm cultivation, extension of which was absolutely necessary, so that India’s dependency on palm oil imports could be brought down.
Not enough seed nurseries in India
s there are not enough seed nurseries in the country for supplying oil plan seedlings, Niranjan said there was no option but to import them from countries such as Costa Rica, Thailand and Malaysia. Increasing the import duty on seedlings would deter farmers from going for oil palm cultivation