Association submits memo to ICAR Director-General

The Andhra Pradesh Oil Palm Farmers Welfare Association has requested the government to ensure a fair deal to the oil palm growers in fixing the price of fresh fruit per bunch (FFB) of oil palm.

Association president Sathi Rama Reddy and general secretary Bobba Veeraraghava Rao submitted a petition to S. Ayyappan, Director-General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, during the latter's visit to the Directorate of Oil Palm Research at Pedavegi in the district on Saturday with a plea for his intervention in price fixation of the FFB. The Union Ministry of Agriculture has constituted a 13-member committee, represented by farmers and officials from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka with the Director of DOPR as member secretary to go into the issue of the FFB price fixation. The committee put the cost of cultivation in oil palm at Rs. 8,100 per tonne of FFB with 17.5 per cent of the oil extraction ratio (OER) as the baseline.

The association leaders said the OER was undervalued by taking into the claims of processors while ignoring the findings of farmers and scientists. In its survey, the DOPR has concluded that the OER has dropped to 17.5 per cent from 18.5 because of juvenile plantations which reportedly outnumbered the aged ones in the oil palm areas from the three States.

Benchmarks

G.V.S. R. Prasad, a grower and member of the association, requested Mr. Ayyappan to develop the benchmarks in determining the OER by undertaking research in a processing plant to be established with a farmer-government partnership without depending on the claims of processors.

The association wanted the ICAR to take steps to check certain anomalies in the parameters developed by the DOPR for determining the cultivation cost in oil palm. The DOPR has failed to take into account the rental value of the land.

Besides, interest on investment and the expenditure incurred on infrastructure development in oil palm cultivation were taken into consideration for an initial period of three years only without factoring in the same for the rest of 27 years of the plant life, they regretted. It would have an adverse impact on evolving a mechanism for fixation of the minimum support price for oil palm in the future if these anomalies were not rectified, they cautioned.