Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao approved the Oil Palm Crop Extension project being taken up at a cost of Rs 4,800 crore, in a bid to promote its cultivation in about 8.14 lakh acres in the State. He announced a 50 per cent subsidy to farmers cultivating the crop in the State.
The Chief Minister, who reviewed various methods to increase oil palm cultivation in the State at Pragathi Bhavan here, said its cultivation was possible only in the areas with continuous water availability. However, he said one can cultivate four acres of oil palm crop with the water used for cultivating paddy in one acre. Due to the increased supply of irrigation water and uninterrupted power supply in the State, he urged farmers to utilise the opportunity and take up oil palm cultivation on a large scale.
The National Reassessment Committee of the Central government had declared 25 districts in the State as suitable for oil palm cultivation. Chandrashekhar Rao pointed out that against an annual consumption of 22 million tonnes of edible oil in India, only 7 million tonnes was being produced in the country. “We are importing the rest 15 million tonnes at an expenditure of about Rs 70,000 crore in foreign exchange per annum. Further, there is every risk of imported oil getting contaminated,” he said.
As on date, oil palm was being cultivated in only eight lakh acres in India including 38,000 acres in Khammam, Nalgonda and Suryapet districts in the State. Rao suggested increasing oil palm cultivation to 8.14 lakh acres in the State alone spread across Nirmal, Mahabubabad, Kamareddy, Warangal Rural, Nizamabad, Siddipet, Bhupalpally, Peddapalli, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Jagitiyal, Mancherial, Asifabad, Suryapet, Jangaon, Mulugu, Nalgonda, Warangal urban, Wanaparthy, Nagarkurnool, Narayanpet, Sircilla, Gadwal, Mahabubnagar, Kothagudem districts.
With the yield of oil palm crop starting only in the fourth year, farmers can cultivate inter-crops for initial three years. While cocoa is preferred for an inter-crop, teak and Sri Gandham plantations can be grown on the peripheral areas. Further, each oil palm tree gives yield for about 30 years and provides a yield of 10 to 12 tonnes of oil palm bunches for every acre. As a result, farmers get an assured income of Rs 1 lakh per acre. The current price of oil palm is about Rs 12,800 per tonne and the existing laws mandate that the crop should be purchased at the minimum support price.
Against expenditure of Rs 60,000 per acre for the first four years for cultivating oil palm, the government would provide a subsidy of 50 per cent. Among other advantages, the crop would not have any problem from monkeys and wild boar, as well as could withstand storms or hailstorms. “Along with the State Oilfed Corporation, several national and international companies are coming forward to set up oil palm nurseries and processing industries at their own cost. The oil palm cultivation areas would be formed into zones and handed over to such companies for the procurement of the yield,” the Chief Minister said.
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