Govt aims to expand oil palm plantation area by 31,500 ha in 2020-21

Monday, Apr 20, 2020


By Kaushal Verma


NEW DELHI – To reduce its reliance on hefty imports, the government plans to expand the area covered under oil palm plantations by 31,500 ha from the current 350,000 ha in 2020-21 (Apr-Mar) as part of the National Food Security Mission-Oil Palm Scheme.

"We aim to increase the area under oil palm plantation in eastern coastal, north-eastern and coastal regions of the country as the weather conditions are favourable for the growth of the tropical oilseed," the official said. The scheme is aimed at boosting oil palm area expansion and yield.


In 2019-20, the government had expanded the area by 17,000 ha, primarily in Mizoram, Assam, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, he said.


Over half of the 350,000 ha covered by oil palm plantations–spread over 16 states in 2019-20–are yielding fruits, he said.

The tropical oilseed's plantations cover 156,000 ha in Andhra Pradesh, the country's largest oil palm grower, according to the official.

Currently, the production of oil palm in India is around 200,000 tn annually–well below the country's requirement of around 9 mln tn, he said.


With the government's latest bid to expand the plantation area, production may increase in next four to five years–the gestation period for oil palm trees, the official said.

There are six indigenous seed gardens in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, which produce potential sprouts every year.


The government has sourced technology from Malaysia, Indonesia and Costa Rica to plant the oilseed in India. 


Indonesia and Malaysia are the world's largest palm oil producer and exporter, respectively. India meets its palm oil demand by importing from these two southeast Asian countries.   


India can plant palm across 1.9 mln ha, according to the official. 


There are several obstacles in promoting oil palm plantations in northeast and south India. The undulating topography, long gestation period, small holdings with farmers who have limited resources, price instability, and competition with other plantations like tea, rubber and areca nut are some problems, he said.


India is the largest importer of palm oil, and typically buys over 8-9 mln tn of the edible oil per annum from the foreign market. Palm oil accounts for over 60% of the country's total edible oil imports. End 


Edited by Charumathi Sankaran


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