Govt focussing on palm oil to achieve self sufficiency in edible oil, says Prime Minister Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated the Government’s commitment to move towards self-sufficiency in edible oils production and harped on the importance of oil palm cultivation in the north-east region. This comes amidst India importing 57 per cent of its edible oil demand that sees an outgo of $20.56 billion in foreign exchange.

“The insufficiency in edible oil is negatively impacting our forex by $20.56 billion, making it more important for the nation to become self-sufficient (Atmanirbhar) in the production of edible oil through the promotion of oilseeds and palm oil,” the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

During the visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Modi underscored India’s self-reliance (atmanirbharta) in edible oil production, the Ministry said, adding that the Prime Minister highlighted the Mission Palm Oil, which is a special campaign carried out by the Central government with a focus on the north-east. Modi also inaugurated the first oil mill under this mission, it said.

“Mission Palm Oil will make India Aatmanirbhar in the edible oil sector and boost the income of farmers,” the Prime Minister said, expressing gratitude towards the farmers for taking up palm cultivation, according to the statement.

Imports 21% down

A strategy will be formulated to achieve ‘atmanirbharta’ for mustard, groundnut, sesame, soyabean and sunflower oilseeds, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in her interim Budget Speech for 2024-25. She, earlier during the 2022-23 Budget speech, announced that a rationalised and comprehensive scheme to increase domestic production of oilseeds would be implemented to reduce India’s dependence on import.

However, the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare later informed the Finance Ministry that the promise of a comprehensive scheme got “substantially implemented under National Food Security Mission (Oilseeds) and National Mission of Edible Oil (Oil palm).”

In the oil marketing year (November-October) of 2023-24, the overall import of vegetable oils by India declined 21 per cent to 46,47,963 tonne until February from 58,87,900 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous season, according to Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) data.

Operational in 15 States

The Government launched the National Mission for Edible Oils – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) in August 2021 under which thare is a target to raise crude palm oil production to 11.20 lakh tonnes by 2025-26. The scheme is operational in 15 States, covering a potential area of 21.75 lakh hectares.

The ministry said that 111 nurseries with the capacity of 1 crore planting material have been established, along with 12 seed gardens with the potential of 1.2 crore planting material for area expansion under the mission.

The NMEO-OP offers special assistance of Rs 1,00,000 per hectare to farmers for planting material, management, and to address the topographical challenges (land clearance, half-moon terrace construction, bio-fencing) faced by them in the north east region. Besides, it provides ₹2,90,000 for the purchase of harvesting tools to farmers.

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