Indian imports 60% of the edible oil it consumes and runs up an import bill of Rs 80,000 crore. Of that palm oil alone accounts for 55%.

 In the quest for self-sufficiency, the government wants to promote palm oil cultivation big time in India. The target is to grow it on 3 million hectares over the next decade. So, what's the problem? While palm is the most prolific and efficient source of vegetable oil, it has a really bad reputation.

Activists call it the coal of the food world: bad for health, bad for the planet. In southeast Asia palm monoculture has eaten into nearly 10 million hectares of forests. In middle class perception, it's an unhealthy oil. Why then the push for a policy that literally takes us from the frying pan to fire?

TR Vivek speaks to Dr RK Mathur, director Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research on this polarising and fatty matter.

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