Plans are afoot to expand palm oil cultivation in Assam to 17 more districts and expanding the acreage by another 1500 hector of land, Assam Agriculture Minister Atul Bora disclosed on Tuesday at a business summit organized in Guwahati to attract investors to the North Eastern states.
Presently farmers in two districts of Assam –Goalpara and Kamrup– are engaged in oil palm cultivation.
Addressing the summit, Union Agriculture Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar said that under the central government’s Palm Oil Mission, with a total outlay of Rs 11,040 crore, plans are afoot to bring 3.28 lakh hectres in North Eastern states under palm oil cultivation over the next five years and making the region a major palm oil hub. The central government mission envisages expanding oil palm plantation in the country by another 6.5 lakh hectres with rest of the 3.22 lakh hectres to be spread across different states.
To support the plans, Tomar assured delegates that major investments would be made to develop seed nursery, drip irrigation, provide technical back up, setting of mills, purchase centers and training of farmers. Special package and assistance for NE states will change the socio-economic status of the farmers and will open employment opportunities in the established oil palm mills along with infrastructure development, Tomar said.
The business summit is aimed at exploring the target of area expansion, seedling requirement fixed for different states through processors, while making potential investors aware of government support to the mission through viability gap payment besides other interventions and assistance..
Tomar assured that farmers who take up palm oil cultivation would be safeguarded under a price assurance scheme besides all needed support as part of the efforts to make the country self reliant in edible oil production..
A memorandum of understanding was signed during the event between ABPRL and Numaligarh Refinery in Assam to establish the first-of-its-kind bio refinery in India to produce bio-ethanol.
To guide the farmers “Glimpses of NMEO-Oil Palm in NE States” by Oilseeds Division, DA&FW and “Improved Management Practices of the Oil Palm Cultivation in NE States” by ICAR-IIOPR and an Assessment Report were released at the event..
Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu expressed hope that investors would support the vision to make NE an agriculture hub, particularly for production of palm oil.