Adilabad: In an effort to encourage farmers to explore alternative crops, the State government is planning to encourage oil palm cultivation in an expected area of 73,000 hectares on a pilot project basis in the erstwhile Adilabad district. A decision to this effect was made based on findings of a State-level expert team which carried out a study to assess suitable mandals for raising the trees.
The erstwhile Adilabad district has a total area of cultivation by 5.7 lakh hectares. The district, which has staple crops include cotton, paddy, soya, red gram, etc., has not seen the raising of oil palm trees so far. However, the government is now mulling to promote the growing of the trees in this region considering the growing demand for oil seeds and assured profits to farmers.
“A State-level team of experts surveyed the district for finding suitable mandals of Adilabad, Nirmal, Mancherial and Kumram Bheem-Asifabad for growing the trees recently. The team suggested that the oil palm trees could be raised in 73,000 hectares on the pilot project basis. An action plan will be prepared to increase the area of cultivation of the trees in a phased manner, based on the outcomes of the project,” an official of the Horticulture Department told Telangana Today.
As per the survey, 33,520 hectares in Nirmal, 15,000 hectares belonging to Adilabad while 12,800 hectares in Mancherial and 12,221 hectares from Kumram Bheem Asifabad districts were found to have favourable conditions to raise the oil palm trees. Authorities of the Horticulture Department began promoting the crop and advising farmers to grow it as an alternative crop.
Already, farmers belonging to Chennur, Jaipur, Bheemaram, Kotapalli and Vemanapalli mandals of Chennur Assembly constituency have ventured into growing the crop from this agriculture season following an awareness created by local MLA Balka Suman. Similarly, the government issued an order to establish an oil mill in Jaipur mandal centre, which will enable the growers to sell their produce.
Authorities of the Horticulture Department say that a farmer may record an average annual profit by Rs 73,000 per acre for a period of five years. They can avail subsidy of Rs 84 as against the cost of Rs 91 per tree. They have to pay Rs 20 for transporting the trees. They are provided with a drip irrigation facility which is mandatory for raising the trees at subsidised prices.
Also, the farmers can get annual monetary aid of Rs 5,000 per acre for overcoming financial problems and for growing the alternative crop for five years.
Techie couple takes up oil palm cultivation
Not just general farmers, but also professionals of various fields are coming forward to foray into the field of oil palm cultivation, albeit a new crop for the region. In a welcoming sign, Chintabatla Shashikanth and Jyothi, a Hyderabad-based software engineer couple belonging to Maddikal of Bheemaram mandal in Mancherial district decided to enter the agriculture by growing oil palm trees in their 12-acre field. “I would always love to be a farmer. I wanted to become a torchbearer to others by choosing an unconventional yet commercial crop,” Shashikanth told Telangana Today.
Government Whip and Chennur MLA Balka Suman, who is growing the trees 12 acres in his field, said that young and innovative farmers of the region were showing interest in the cultivation of oil palm. The awareness programmes and field visits held a few months back evoked a good response in the region. “Chennur will be a hub of oil seeds and excel in this sector, soon. Northern Telangana’s soil is favourable for growing the trees,” he opined. Chennur Horticulture Officer R Tirupati said that farmers belonging to different mandals of Chennur Assembly constituency are set to raise the trees around 1,000 acres in this ongoing agriculture season for the first time. Other farmers are likely to grow the trees in 2,000 acres in the second phase which will start from November. Many farmers are showing their interest to take up the crop, he added.
As many as 1,650 trees have already been brought from a nursery of Ashwaraopet of Khammam district recently.
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