Northeast region to turn into oil palm hub of India: Union agriculture minister

Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on October 5 asserted that the government’s decision to make major interventions in the Northeast states for oil palm promotion will turn them into oil palm hubs of the country.

Emphasising on equal role for the development of oil palm crop and making major investments for seed nursery, drip irrigation, technical back-up, setting up of mills, purchase centres and training of farmers, Tomar said: “The special package and assistance for Northeast states will change the socio-economic status of the farmers and open employment opportunities in the established oil palm mills along with infrastructure development.”

Tomar was speaking at the ‘National Mission on Edible Oil – Oil Palm Business Summit for North-Eastern States’ in Guwahati.

The Union minister also informed that the business summit has been aimed at exploring the target of area expansion, seedling requirement fixed for different states through processors, details of viability gap payment, interventions, and assistance under the mission, a release from the ministry said.

The mission with a total outlay of Rs 11,040 crore will bring additional area of 6.5 lakh hectares under oil palm plantation with 3.28 lakh hectares in Northeast states and 3.22 hectares in rest of India in the next five years, Tomar said.

The agriculture minister stated that the government is committed to protect the oil palm farmers through price assurance, adding that under the mission, oil palm farmers will be provided all the assistance needed.

Union minister for development of northeastern region (DoNER), G Kishan Reddy, appreciated the vision of the government for coming up with “a very well-planned edible palm oil scheme, which is a win-win for the farmers as well as for the development of the region”.

The DoNER minister appealed to the investors and industrialists to invest in the Northeast region, which has immense potential for agricultural sector, especially palm oil.

Chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu, said that it is time for the investors to come and invest in Northeast in a big way to develop the agriculture sector, and take advantage of the fertile lands and climate.

“Palm oil holds special significance as its cultivation can open up untapped avenues of earning for the farmers in the Northeast,” he said.

Assam’s agriculture minister Atul Bora informed that presently, farmers in two districts of Assam – Goalpara and Kamrup – are engaged in oil palm cultivation while there is a plan of bringing 1,500 hectares of land in 17 other districts under palm oil cultivation.

An MoU was signed on the occasion between the Assam Bio Refinery Private Limited (ABRPL) and the Numaligarh Refinery to establish a first-of-its-kind bio refinery in India to produce renewable green fuel bio ethanol.

Creating opportunities in Northeast India

Oil palm company, 3F Oil Palm, said that the Northeast region will play a major role in the long run. Managing director and CEO of the company, Sanjay Goenka, stressed on the potential of the region in the cultivation and said that it will further augment the growth of the region.

“3F Oil Palm is elated to be a part of the business summit for Northeast states towards the national mission on edible oils – Oil Palm. 3F Oil Palm is a major player in oil palm cultivation in the country. We are planning to expand our footprint into Assam with a target area coverage of 50,000 hectares over the next 5 years and invest around Rs 1,000 crore creating over 3,000 new jobs. In addition, we are aiming at covering 30,000 hectares of area under oil palm in Arunachal Pradesh in the next 5 years. A palm oil processing facility is also in the pipeline in Arunachal Pradesh which is expected to be commissioned in the financial year of 2022-23. The company is on the verge of making a total investment of Rs 750 crore in Arunachal Pradesh as well, creating jobs for over 2,000 people,” Goenka said.

About Jayanta Deka

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Jayanta Deka is a Guwahati-based journalist with over a decade of experience in journalism. Tracking new media, technology, startups and politics interest him. He can be reached through deka.jayanta@gmail.com

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