After cotton, palm oil to become TS cash crop

6.75 lakh acres in 204 mandals identified for its cultivation

Published - June 17, 2018 10:31 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Cotton will no longer be the only cash crop grown extensively in Telangana as 6.75 lakh acres in 204 mandals in the State were identified for oil palm plantation this month. To kick-start the transition, 50,000 acres in Khammam and Bhadrachalam districts were earmarked exclusively for oil palm cultivation.

The Horticulture Department has identified an additional 1,200 acres in Suryapet and Nalgonda districts. On June 12, 5,000 farmers attended an awareness drive that the Horticulture Department conducted at Bhadrachalam. More number of farmers are expected to attend similar drive the rest of the year.

So far, cotton has been the dominant cash crop as it is cultivated on 35 lakh acres of land spread across the State. Another cash crop, chilli, is cultivated on four lakh acres of land in the state. Other than Telangana, only a handful of States, including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Mizoram, cultivate oil palm.

Less water used

Oil palm attains maturity in three to four years to start giving yield. The plantation is lucrative because each tonne of fresh fruit bunches will be worth ₹10,000. The trees also consume less water when compared to food crops, including rice. “Paddy needs 60,000 litres of water per day to irrigate one acre of land when compared to oil palm which requires 10,000 litres of land per acre. Each acre can have 50 palm trees, thereby making its cultivation water efficient,” Commissioner of Horticulture and Sericulture L. Venkatram Reddy said.

To encourage farmers to invest in oil palm plantation, the state will offer 50% subsidy on costs for the first four years during which the trees will attain maturity. During these years, farmers can also plant inter-crops including vegetables or spices like turmeric.

Centre’s approval

To undertake mass plantation of oil palm, the State, however, needs the approval of the Central government. “Plantation of the palm is regulated by the Oil Palm (Regulation of Production and Processing) Act. The Centre was notified of the 204 mandals which are selected for plantation last week. Now, we are waiting for approval,” Mr. Reddy said.

After the Centre approves plantation, companies licensed to do palm oil extraction will be notified in public for them to place competent bids. Each land parcel where the trees are cultivated will be linked to companies that take contract for crushing the seeds to extract oil.

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