New Delhi, Dec 16 (IANS) The Narendra Modi government launched the National Mission on Edible Oils-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) in August 2021, allocating Rs 11,040 crore with the objective of encouraging domestic oilseeds production and increasing the area under oil palm cultivation aggressively across various states in India in order to reduce dependence on imports of edible oils.Around 9 million tonnes of palm oil is imported every year to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore which is around 56% of the total imports of edible oil. At present against a total potential area of around 28 lakh hectares, only 3.70 lakh hectares is under oil palm cultivation.
The target fixed for oil palm area expansion by 2025-26 under NMEO-OP is to increase the area of oil palm to 10 lakh hectares by 2025-26 from 3.5 lakh ha during 2019-20 (that is, an additional 6.50 lakh ha), of which 3.28 lakh ha will be in the north-eastern states, with a target of 66 lakh tonnes set for the production of FFBs (fresh fruit bunches), which are pressed to produce crude palm oil.
The government aims to increase crude palm oil production from the 2019-20 level of 0.27 lakh tonnes to 11.20 lakh tonnes by 2025-26.
Considering the growing domestic demand for edible oils, the staggering deficiency and the cost to the exchequer on account of imports, the government considers the urgency of scaling up the oil palm area of national interest.
The government has substantially increased the subsidies for ongoing components and inputs required for cultivation. For the first time, the government introduced a viability price of fresh fruit bunches.
The states in which oil palm cultivation is expanding include Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Goa, Chhattisgarh, the North-east states. Private companies such as Gujarat Agrovet have also teamed up with state governments to give a push to oil palm cultivation.
The strategy to implement the proposed NMEO-OP includes increasing production of seedlings by the establishment of seed gardens, nurseries of oil palm to assure domestic availability of seedlings as per the target fixed under NMEO-OP. Improving productivity of FFBs, increasing drip irrigation coverage under oil palm, diversification of area from low yielding cereal crops to oil palm, inter-cropping during the gestation period of 4 years, would provide economic returns to the farmers when there is no production.
The scheme is being implemented in a mission mode through active involvement of all the stakeholders. Fund flows are being monitored to ensure that the benefit of the mission reaches the targeted beneficiaries in time to achieve the targeted results, a senior official said.
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