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Oil palm mission finalised, says Khandu

Guwahati: The roadmap to implement the ambitious National Mission on Edible Oils-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) in Arunachal Pradesh has been finalized and the state government will go full swing in implementing the mission very soon, chief minister Pema Khandu said on Tuesday.

Khandu, who was speaking at the ‘Business Summit for North Eastern States’ on the national mission here, said Arunachal Pradesh is geographically the largest state in the North East and has about 1.33 lakh hectares of land feasible for oil palm cultivation as assessed by a central team in 2019.

“Based on the assessment, we have identified the lands, farmers and developers. We will go full swing in implementing the mission very soon,” the chief minister said.

Terming the summit as a game-changing platform for the North East, Khandu hailed the central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi for focusing on sectors that will usher accelerated development in the region.

The chief minister informed that Arunachal Pradesh, in fact, is not new to oil palm cultivation. The state already has about 4250 hectares under oil palm cultivation. The scheme implemented years ago was left unattended due to lack of handholding for farmers, he said.

Khandu said the farmers didn’t expand their cultivation saying there were no processing factories while the private companies said without expansion of cultivation sites establishment of factories wasn’t feasible.

“This cost the earlier scheme. But under the new National Mission things have changed. Under it both our farmers and private investors will be in a win-win situation,” he said.

As raised by others, Khandu also sought support from the central government on procurement of quality seeds and fertilizers at subsidized rates. He also requested for establishment of a zonal or regional level research center on oil palm in Arunachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, countering anti-oil palm school of thoughts, the chief minister urged the experts, social media influencers and journalists to ‘get the facts right’ and pass the ‘right information’ to the masses instead of propagating the ‘unfounded misinformation’ on effects of oil palm cultivation being circulated mostly through social media.

Hosted by the Assam agriculture department, the summit was chaired by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar along with Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) G Kishan Reddy.

Minister of State (MoS) for DoNER B L Verma, MoS for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje, MoS for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Kailash Choudhary, agriculture ministers from the northeastern states and other dignitaries were also present.

The summit stressed on growth of agriculture in the North East with special emphasis on the sectors like oil palm, bamboo development, and many others.

During the event, a Memorandum of Understanding was also signed for the Bamboo FPO Agreement.

Besides, certificates were also distributed to Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs), an initiative to encourage the farmers for the push of Palm Oil cultivation.

A total of 28 lakh hectares of land is said to be available across the nation for palm oil cultivation. Out of these, 9.62 lakh hectares is available in the Northeast alone.

The National Edible Oil Mission-Oil Palms is worth Rs 11000 crore.

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