Telangana has decided to give a big push to the palm oil sector by announcing a ₹4,800-crore project to promote the edible oil plantation in the State.
The State has set a target to have a coverage of eight lakh acres in the next few years as against the present acreage of only 38,000 acres.
Considering higher initial costs (for the first four years the expenditure would be ₹60,000 per acre), the government has decided to offer a 50 per cent subsidy on the expenditure.
It is going to promote palm oil as an alternative to the water-guzzling paddy. “The water that is required for one acre of paddy is enough for four acres of oil palm,” a senior official of the Chief Minister’s Office has said.
“Oil palm cultivation is possible only in the areas where there is a continuous availability of water. Due to increase in irrigation facilities in the State, we can offer the farmers water round the clock,” Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao said, while discussing ways to increase oil palm cultivation and productivity in the State.
He said the National Reassessment Committee had identified 25 districts in the State as convenient for cultivating the edible oil crop in a big way.
“As against the requirement of 22 million tonnes of edible oil, the country is producing only 7 million tonnes, forcing it to import 15 million tonnes of edible oil. This is costing the exchequer a whopping ₹70,000 crore,” the official said. Besides the State Oilfed Corporation, several national and international companies are coming forward to set up oil palm nurseries and processing plants.