The Agriculture Department is eyeing the possibility of increasing the area under oil palm cultivation in the State.
At a meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar earlier this week, the State had sought support for expanding oil palm cultivation to all districts under the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP), Agriculture Minister P. Prasad said.
“The Centre had agreed to oil palm cultivation on 6,500 hectares in eight districts. We have informed the Centre that all 14 districts have potential,” Mr. Prasad said.
Additionally, the State had requested support for establishing a second seed garden for ensuring the availability of quality planting material, Mr. Prasad said.
“We have a seed garden in Thodupuzha which produces 10 lakh sprouts. The State has placed a request for one more seed garden in the State,” he said.
At present, the Oil Palm India grows oil palms at Yeroor, Chithara and Kulathupuzha in Kollam district. The Plantation Corporation also has oil palm plantations in Thrissur district.
The State has expressed its keenness at a time when the pros and cons of the new oil palm mission announced by the Narendra Modi government are being hotly debated.
In mid-August, the Union Cabinet had given its approval for the new ₹11,040-crore National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP). While the stated aim is to reduce dependence on edible oil imports, the mission has drawn criticism on the grounds that oil palm monoculture could spell disaster for the biodiversity-rich North-East region and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the two focus areas of NMEO-OP.