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Updated: September 25, 2012 12:30 IST

‘T-bias’ upsets oil palm growers of coastal Andhra

G. Nagaraja
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Mounds of oil palm fresh fruit bunches dumped outside the processing plant of
the AP Oilfed for crushing at Pedavegi in West Godavari district. Photo: A.V.G.Prasad
Mounds of oil palm fresh fruit bunches dumped outside the processing plant of the AP Oilfed for crushing at Pedavegi in West Godavari district. Photo: A.V.G.Prasad

AP Oilfed to set up processing plant with 20-40 tonnes crushing capacity in Khammam dt.

The oil palm growers from the coastal Andhra region are up in arms against the government’s alleged skewed priorities in favour of the Telangana region in establishing processing plants. The reported decision by the governing board of the Andhra Pradesh Oil Federation (AP Oilfed) recently to establish a major processing plant with

20-40 tonnes crushing capacity (per hour) either at Dammapeta or at Aswaraopet area in Khammam district by investing

Rs.60 crore has raised the hackles of the growers from the coastal region.

A delegation of the Pedavegi Area Oilfed Farmers’ Association met Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy during his Pallenidra programme at Jangareddygudem last month seeking a level playing field in oil palm cultivation. The factory at Pedavegi processes the oil palm fresh fruit bunches (FFBs) supplied from two mandals in West Godavari and four mandals in East Godavari district at the rate of 20 tonnes per hour.

The Oilfed, a State-owned agency, is also running another plant capable of crushing 15 tonnes per hour at Aswaraopet. The fruits harvested in over 5,000 ha from 25 mandals in the district are supplied to the plant for crushing.

Undavilli Venkata Rao, who led the delegation to the Chief Minister, said the proposal to set up a plant with 5-10 tonne crushing capacity at Prattipadu in East Godavari district had failed to take off due to the regional compulsions of the government that allegedly went in favour of the Telangana region.

A source from the Oilfed said around 85,000 tonnes of FFBs were expected to arrive in the plant at Pedavegi next year for crushing from its crop area. “The fruits could be processed by increasing the plant capacity up to 25 tonnes per hour with the yield at 85,000 tonnes. But it will serve the purpose if the yield goes up to 1 lakh tonnes in the next two years as expected by the government in the wake of a boom in oil palm cultivation. The increase in yield will necessitate the need for a major plant with 40 ton crushing capacity at Pedavegi”, the source said. Mr. Venkata Rao apprehended that the Oilfed had decided to complete the new plant in Khammam district by 2014 while remaining ‘indecisive’ over the need for an expansion programme at Pedavegi.

The oil palm crop suffered a setback in 2008 as a result of the economic downturn, which saw a price crash and felling of plantations by the growers.

However, there has been a two-fold increase from 65,000 acres in the three coastal districts and Khammam in Telangana region together in the last four years as a result of the turnaround on the price front.

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