Telangana government has decided to focus on oil palm cultivation and got approval form the Centre to raise oil palms on an extent of 18,100 hectares in the next two years, said Agriculture Minister S. Niranjan Reddy here on Saturday.
Addressing a media conference, Mr. Reddy said that attention was not paid to oil palm cultivation due to lack of awareness in Telangana, and after the formation of the TRS government, the prospects and benefits of oil palm cultivation was studied.
The study committee from the Centre visited the State twice and gave permission for the extension of oil palm cultivation on 45,000 acres, he said, and thanked the Centre for granting permission.
The Minister said that oil palm cultivators could earn an income of ₹1.2 lakh to ₹1.5 lakh per acre and it would not be affected by the vagaries of weather. The government would formulate plans for extending oil palm cultivation across the State. Government would give guarantee to buy oil palm yield, he said.
While the country requires 21 million tonnes of edible oils, it produced only seven million tonnes and the remaining is being imported at a cost of ₹75,000 crore. Of the oil imports, palm oil accounts for 60%, he said. Thus India is importing eight to nine million tonnes of palm oil at a cost of ₹40,000 crore and this could be set off against cultivation of oil palm in 28 lakh hectares. India ranked second after Indonesia in oil palm consumption, he said.
In Telangana too, there is a shortfall of 3 lakh tonnes of oil and of this share of palm oil is about 1.8 lakh tonnes. By expanding oil palm cultivation, imports could be brought down and valuable foreign exchange could be saved, he explained.
The State government is giving incentives under oil palm cultivation on 50,000 acres so far in Khammam, Nalgonda and Kothagudem districts and the State is giving ₹12,000 per tonne of palm oil, highest in the country.
Mr. Reddy said he himself is cultivating oil palm on eight acres. The government is extending 100% subsidy to SC and ST farmers, 90% subsidy to small and marginal BC farmers and 80% subsidy to others, he said.
Oil palm cultivation would also do good to the environment and according to an estimate, an hectare of oil palm trees would consume 20 tonnes of carbondioxide and release 22 tonnes of oxygen, he said.
Answering questions, Mr. Reddy denied any thinking to fix a ceiling on Rythu Bandhu pay out. He also said the amounts were being credited to farmers accounts but the money was not transferred due to technical problems in some cases. A separate cell was constituted to monitor implementation of the scheme, the Minister said.