Hyderabad: The State government is gearing up to promote oil palm cultivation on a large scale in about 50,000 acres spread over 206 mandals in Telangana. Besides encouraging farmers to take up crops other than paddy, the government wants farmers to get a major share in the Rs 70,000 crore palm oil imports to meet domestic needs every year.
“Telangana is currently producing more paddy than its requirement which could affect the remunerative price to farmers in future. Thus, the government wants some farmers to shift to remunerative crops such as oil palm which would also reduce our dependence on oil imports worth Rs 70,000 crore per annum from Malaysia and Indonesia,” said Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy. The State government was aiming at increasing its annual turnover from Rs 750 crore to Rs 2,500 crore in the next 10 years through oil palm cultivation, he said.
At an awareness programme on ‘Oil palm development — raising of nurseries and plantation in the State’, Niranjan Reddy said the State government was spending about Rs 65,000 crore on agriculture sector from its annual budget which was a record of sorts for any State government. He thanked the Union government for sanctioning Rs 50 crore to the State for taking up the production of oil seeds. However, he wanted the Centre to extend support for the State’s irrigation projects as farmers could not take up cultivation without adequate irrigation facilities. “The State government is planning to provide incentives to oil palm farmers and the same will be announced after consulting Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao,” he added.
Tribal Welfare Minister Satyavathi Rathod said due to Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme, the tail-end farmers in Mahabubabad district now had access to irrigation and thanked the Chief Minister in this regard. She said Mahabubabad district had good soil to cultivate oil crops and requested the Agriculture Minister to give priority to the district in the allocation of funds for the cultivation of oil palm which will also benefit tribal farmers. “To support local farmers, we have invited tenders to procure palm oil for residential hostels and other institutions in our department rather than importing,” she added.
Telangana State Oil Federation chairman Ramakrishna Reddy, Principal Secretary for Agriculture C Parthasarathi, Horticulture Commissioner Venkatram Reddy, MP Venkatesh Nethakani and other legislators were present.