Cabinet okays measures to boost oil palm cultivation


The government today relaxed land ceiling for oil palm cultivation, a move aimed at attracting farmers and corporate bodies in this sector to boost domestic output and cut import.

Total production of edible oil in the country is about 9 million tonnes while domestic demand is around 25 million tonnes. The gap between demand and supply is being met through imports, which amounted to Rs 68,000 crore in 2015-16.

Palm oil contributes 70 per cent of vegetable oil import and is one of the cheapest oil due to high yield per hectare.

"The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved measures to increase oil palm area and production in India," an official statement said.

The Cabinet relaxed land ceiling for oil palm cultivation under the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP). The relaxation in restrictions for providing assistance to over 25 hectares area under NMOOP is aimed at attracting corporate bodies towards oil palm and derive maximum benefit of 100 per cent FDI.

The Cabinet also revised norms for assistance under Mini Mission-II of NMOOP. It has approved revision in the norms of assistance mainly for planting materials, maintenance cost, inter-cropping cost and bore-well to make oil palm plantations attractive.

These measures will encourage oil palm plantation on large scale by corporate bodies and help utilise wastelands.

"By relaxing restrictions under NMOOP, private entrepreneurs/cooperative bodies/joint ventures will show their interest in investment in oil palm plantation and availing the NMOOP support," the statement said.

The decision will also encourage farmers for oil palm cultivation in a bigger way. The revision of cost norms will motivate fanners for oil palm plantation.

The annual action plan (AAP) of the State/Agencies will be approved by Department of Agriculture on revised cost norms. The private entrepreneurs/cooperative bodies/joint ventures will be invited by the respective state governments for oil palm plantation in their state.

This programme is being implemented in 12 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, Odisha, Kerala, Assam, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

Nearly 133 districts are under oil palm cultivation in these 12 states, However, all the potential states of Oil palm are covered under NMOOP.

"There will be some financial implication in relaxing restrictions of area and up-scaling the norms of subsidies but the same would be accommodated within NMOOP fund. Therefore, no additional funds would be required," the statement said.

The Centre is promoting oil palm by implementing several programmes since 1986-87 and from 2014-15 through NMOOP.

Area under oil palm has expanded from 8,585 hectare in-1991-92 to around 3 lakh hectare by 2015-16. The mission aims to bring an additional area of 1.25 lakh hectare under oil palm cultivation by 2016-17. PTI MJH MKJ


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