Hyderabad: Oil palm cultivation took centre-stage in the Assembly with several legislators expressing interest in cultivating the crop. The State government has identified about 2.78 lakh hectares in 249 mandals of 23 districts across the State, to be suitable for oil palm cultivation.
Recently, the Central government permitted to take up oil palm cultivation afresh in about 18,100 hectares, in addition to about 20,234 hectares (50,000 acres) under cultivation in the State.
Replying during the Question Hour on Thursday, Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy said the State government, along with the Centre, will provide a subsidy of Rs 20,800 per acres per year to farmers cultivating oil palm for four years, including plant subsidy, funds sanctioned for various agricultural works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and other schemes. “The State government has been promoting oil palm cultivation in areas with guaranteed water supply even during the summer season,” he said.
Niranjan Reddy explained various measures being taken to promote oil palm cultivation in the State and said earlier only erstwhile district of Khammam was considered as the suitable area for oil palm cultivation, but the Central team of experts recently declared Telangana to be an ideal location for oil palm cultivation. “To encourage non-paddy crops, the State government has decided to promote its cultivation on a large scale. Oil palm is the only crop for which the Centre brought out a law promising returns. Except for paddy, this crop can have any other crop as inter-crop. It does not have pests problem and releases 22 tonnes of oxygen by absorbing 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide,” he explained.
Pointing out that he and Chennur MLA Balka Suman took up oil palm cultivation in about eight acres and 12 acres respectively owing to assured profits, the Agriculture Minister urged all legislators with agriculture as occupation to cultivate oil palm. He termed July to February as a suitable period for sowing the crop. India was consuming 21 million tonnes of edible oil every year, but producing only 7 million mt while the rest of oil is being imported from countries like Indonesia.