Hyderabad: Keeping in view of the demand for edible oils and increasing imports from abroad, the State government will be focusing on promoting oil palm cultivation on a large scale in the State. India had spent approximately Rs 79,000 crore of its foreign exchange last year to import edible oils from abroad of which over Rs 40,000 crore were spent for importing oil palm alone from countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.
Responding to questions raised on oil palm cultivation during the Question Hour in the Assembly on Thursday, Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy emphasised the need for crop rotation and cultivation of alternate crops like oil palm to increase yield and also cater to the market demand. He pointed out that oil palm was the only crop in the country with a buy back guarantee from the oil companies. “As per the Central government guidelines, we have already issued notification inviting proposals from the oil companies to allocate areas for purchasing oil palm from farmers. We have evaluated the credentials of these companies which came forward and will complete zonal allotment after taking approval from the Chief Minister,” he said.
The Minister said Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao was giving highest priority to the agriculture sector which is one of the largest employer in the State. About 1.41 crore acres are under cultivation in the State during the ensuing Vaanakalam season and the acreage is likely to increase further as paddy transplantation was still in progress in some areas. He pointed out that the Food Corporation of India procured about 55 per cent of its rice from the State.
Niranjan Reddy said there was a good response from farmers for regulated farming and hence, the State government was focusing on promoting new crop varieties like oil palm. Observing the demand for edible oils and increasing usage of forex to import them, he said that the Centre was promoting edible oil crops and approved for cultivation of oil palm in 8.14 lakh acres in the State. “At present, oil palm cultivation has been taken up in about 6,250 acres. The State government also took the lead and decided to promote oil palm cultivation as part of its efforts to make agriculture profitable for farmers,” he said.
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