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Thursday, Oct 24, 2002

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New strategy for oil palm growth mooted

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FARM subsidies must be treated as cost of agricultural production, Mr Ashok Kumar Rastogi, Union Special Secretary of Agriculture, has said.

Delivering the presidential address at the national consultative meeting for increasing the production and processing of oil palm in India here on Tuesday, he said there was also a need to reform land tenancy laws and in this context, the proposed lease-licence model and contract-farming model should be debated. He also called for long-term Government programmes and policies in agriculture.

The two-day consultative meeting is being organised here by the Society for Promotion of Oil Palm Research and Development (SOPOPRAD) in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Agriculture and the State Department of Horticulture.

Dr I. V. Subba Rao, Vice-Chancellor of Acharya N. G. Ranga Agricultural University, said any decrease in the import duty on palm oil from the current level of 55 per cent would adversely affect the farmers, and wondered whether the prices of the imported and domestically produced palm oil could be equalised as was done in the case of fertilisers and petroleum products.

The Andhra Pradesh Minister for Agriculture, Mr V. Shobhanadreshwara Rao, said the State Government was prepared to extend subsidy to oil palm cultivators for purchase of harvesting equipment. He also emphasised the need for extending insurance coverage for oil palm plantations.

The SOPOPRAD President, Dr P. Rethinam, said palm oil prices were again going up and the trend was likely to continue in future. So this was the time to develop a strategy to have a long-term collaboration with Malaysia and Indonesia for supply of oil palm planting material, transfer of technology and human resource development.

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