“58 Percent of Potential oil palm acreage identified in 5 states: ICAR study”

News– Centre’s relaunched National Mission for Edible Oil-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) to expand area under oil palm, largely in southern and north-eastern parts of the country. Recently ICAR also launched report on palm oil cultivation in India. 

What does ICAR study says about oil palm cultivation 

ICAR analysis shows oil palm cultivation requires less water than rice, banana and sugarcane. Thus, it will be a suitable option for crop diversification, especially as an alternative to rice. 

What is National Mission for Edible Oil-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) 

At present, less than 0.5 million hectares is under Oil Palm cultivation in India domestically, largely in Andhra Pradesh and a few North-Eastern states. Mission plans to raise oil palm cultivation to 1.7-1.8 million hectares by 2029-30. 

How mission plans to Increase area under Oil palm cultivation 

  1. Price assurance to farmers Government has approved a benchmark purchase price for oil palm along the lines of the existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Provide Viability gap Funding to protect farmers’ interest. 
  2. Incentive to oil palm processors if they set up their units in North-Eastern states. 

What are the apprehensions regarding oil palm plantation 

  1. Large scale deforestation– According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the expansion of oil palm plantations is likely to cause huge forest loss. 
  2. Felling and burning of forests impact populations of endangered wildlifedisrupts local livelihoods and contribute to global warming. 

What can be challenges in realising the goals of Mission 

Previous such efforts have not yielded much results due to the following reasons 

  1. Firstly, farmers have to wait for four years for the trees in India to start yielding palm fruit bunches, which would then give palm oil and palm kernel oil. 
  2. Secondly, Indian farmers generally have very small farm holdings, making investments in a sector like palm with varied and geographically diverse marginal farm holdings challenging. 
  3. Thirdly, Corporate sector investments in oil palm are limited as compared with Malaysia and Indonesia. 

For plantations to be successful, these have to be taken up on a large scale to create efficiencies. 

Source-This post is based on article “58 Percent of Potential oil palm acreage identified in 5 states: ICAR study” Published in Business standard on 8 Dec 2021 

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