The Oil Palm Developers and Processors Association (OPDPA) has asked the Union Government to usher in structural and policy changes to leverage the domestic potential.

The association has called for a stable pricing mechanism to be put in place to protect oil palm growers from price fluctuations. It has also sought minimum support price (MSP) for the crop as prescribed by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) in 2018.

A special package for the North-East will quickly help the country bring large areas of land under oil palm plantation. The government should consider giving huge land parcels owned by it for this purpose, the association said.

It feels that the agro-climatic conditions of the region are very well suited for oil palm cultivation. The region has the potential to cover over two lakh acres.

Welcoming the government’s move to encourage oil palm production in the North-East, the OPDPA has said that the region has the potential to become the largest oil palm hub in the country.

India is heavily dependent on imported edible oils, with nearly 15 million tonnes (or nearly 68 per cent) of edible oils being imported to meet the country’s annual requirement of about 22 million tonnes.

Of the total 15 million tonnes of import, about nine million tonnes (or nearly 60 per cent) is palm oil.

The association felt that the region has the capacity to produce $1-billion worth crude oil palm.

Calling for a policy push to bring in structural changes to promote oil palm plantations in the country, the association pointed out that growth in the sector would help the country save foreign exchange and generate employment in rural areas.

Appreciating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to the State governments in the North East to encourage oil palm plantation to achieve self-reliance in edible oil production, the association felt that increased area under oil palm would fit well in the overall Atmanirbhar Bharat agenda. Besides, it would help the region’s economy.

“The Prime Minister has asked the State Governments in the North-East to set up oil palm missions to promote cultivation of oil palm. These missions will help boost the ecosystem,” Sanjay Goenka, President of OPDPA, has said.

“The oil palm area in the country is very negligible today, compared to the potential the crop has. We have seen the transformation this crop has brought about in the lives of the farmer community in Andhra Pradesh. This can be replicated in the North-East,” he said.

“A strong and robust long-term policy mechanism needs to be introduced to give this crop the required push across the country,” he said.

Some member companies of the OPDPA have already set up base in the North-East and are working closely with the state governments in the region to create awareness about the benefits of the crop.

For one, 3F Oil Palm, a leading oil palm player in the country, has promoted plantation on 5,000 acres of land in Arunachal Pradesh. It is planning to set up a processing facility with a captive power plant.