The Telangana government has provided ₹1,000 crore in Budgetary support to the oil palm sector in the Budget tabled in the State Assembly on Monday. This is expected to go a long way in achieving the ambitious target that the State has set to promote the plantation crop on 8.5 lakh hectares.

A couple of years ago, the State Government launched an action plan to increase the area under oil palm plantations by 40 times — from the current 20,350 hectares to 8.5 lakh hectares. A predominantly rainfed region, the State has significantly augmented irrigation facilities by constructing the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation project and the ancillary projects under the project.

Backed by increased irrigation facilities, the State Government had set its eyes on oil palm cultivation to diversify the cropping system in the State. It wanted a section of farmers to shift to oil palm from paddy and maize. 

Welcoming the decision, oil palm companies have started focussing on Telangana chalking out expansion plans.

Surging consumption

“The consumption of palm oil has seen significant growth in India in the last 20 years. From 29.44 lakh tonnes(lt) in 2001-02, the consumption quantum increased to 87.55 lt in 2020-21, showing a growth rate of 6.99 per cent,” a senior State government official said.

During the period, palm oil’s contribution in the overall consumption level went to 40.11 per cent from 33.12 per cent.  As the country predominantly depends on imports to meet the palm oil demand, there is a huge scope for the growth of oil palm cultivation. “We set up a technical committee to study the feasibility for oil palm cultivation in the State. It suggested that the plantation crop can be grown in 25 out of the 33 districts,” Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy said.

“We are targeting to increase the acreage to 72,000 hectares by March 2023. Plantation has been completed in about 20,000 hectares,” he said.

In 2023-24, an additional acreage of 80,000 hectares will be added,” he said.

Dedicated portal

With a view to ensure smooth coordination among the farmers, the Horticulture Department and other stakeholders, the State launched a web portal and an app on Monday evening. “The web and mobile interfaces will ensure transparency in our oil palm mission. The web sources will act as a registry, comprising the details of the farmers, the extent of the plantation and details about the seedlings,” a senior government official said.