HYDERABAD: The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday expressed confidence in making India ‘Atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) in edible oil production by bringing 28 lakh hectares of land in the country under oil palm cultivation, out of which nine lakh hectares have been marked for north-eastern States.
Addressing the Business Summit on National Mission on Edible Oils-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) in Hyderabad on Tuesday, he said that though the cultivable area for groundnuts and mustard was increasing each year, cultivation of oil palm is the best solution as it formed the major chunk of edible oil imports to meet the ever-increasing per capita edible oil consumption in the country.
“After the first business summit held in Guwahati where almost all queries raised by farmers and processing companies were answered, (and) after witnessing the second business summit happening here, I’m confident that Telangana will be number one in oil palm cultivation,” he stated, assuring full support to States working on the oil palms mission.
Observing that the ecosystem in the State is favourable for oil palm cultivation, State Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy has assured that Telangana would be the first State to achieve and go beyond the Centre’s targets by cultivating oil palms in 12 lakh hectares (30 lakh acres) of land by 2025-26.
He requested the Union government to approve a year-wise action plan, release the Centre’s share of the budget under NMEO-OP, provide a minimum guarantee price of Rs 15,000 per tonne of oil palm, enhancement of indicative cost on drip irrigation for oil palm under PMKSY by covering the entire plantation area and relaxing the seven-year locking period for the availing of micro-irrigation facility for oil palm farmers.
Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar thanked the Centre for swiftly responding to the State’s request to reduce customs duty on import of oil palm seedlings from 30 per cent to 5 per cent.
Telangana sets high targets for oil palm cultivation
Though the Centre has given a target to 1.25 lakh hectares with edible oil crops to Telangana by 2025-26, the latter has set the bar high enough, to bring 12 lakh hectares under cultivation of oil palms by 2025-26.
The Centre has notified 4.36 lakh hectares (10.47 lakh acres) in 31 districts of Telangana. So far, 3,100 hectares out of the total approved 8,100 hectares for 2021-22 have been brought under oil palm cultivation and the government hopes to achieve the remaining by March 2022.
Ten companies working under the aegis of Telangana State Co-operative Oilseeds Growers Federation Ltd (TS Oilfed), have been given a target of 2 lakh hectares each to be achieved by 2025-26.
Farmers asked to follow inter-cropping
As the gestation period for the oil palm crop is four years, ryots are being encouraged to follow inter-cropping and grow cotton, red gram, groundnuts, vegetables, blackgram and green gram along with oil palms in their fields. Farmers are also being encouraged to go for border plantation of teak and sandalwood, so that they can get additional returns