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Telangana government to ramp up oil palm cultivation

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According to Horticulture department officials, the government has plans to bring 3 lakh acres under oil palm cultivation during the 2022-23 fiscal, 7 lakh acres in 2023-24 and 10 lakh acres in 2024-25. The total funds required for the ambitious plan will be Rs 780 crore in 2022-23, Rs 1,970 crore in 2023-2024 and Rs 3,100 crore in 2024-25.

As of now, about 61,000 acres are under oil palm cultivation in Telangana, spread across Khammam, Bhadradri Kothagudem, Nalgonda and Suryapet districts. The government plans to take up oil palm plantations in Nirmal (33,520 ha), Mahabubabad (28,164 ha), Kamareddy (26,337 ha), Warangal-Rural (23,118 ha) and Nizamabad (22,218 ha).

The State government has notified 26 districts for oil palm cultivation and has directed district Collectors to encourage farmers to take up the cultivation on a large scale. According to horticulture officials, currently, each tonne of oil palm priced in the open market is Rs 19,000 and every acre produces a yield of about 20 tonnes.

A survey by the National Mission on Oil seeds and Oil Palm has also identified that soil and weather conditions were suitable for the plantation of the crop in 246 out of the 563 rural mandals in the State.

According to the Horticulture Department officials, as per the re-assessment committee constituted under the chairmanship of BMC Reddy to re-assess the potential oil palm area in the country, the Centre notified an additional potential area in Telangana in 2020 for the area expansion of oil palm. Following this, the State government prepared a plan to bring all the identified areas under oil palm plantation.

The government has allotted factory zones to companies to take up oil palm area expansion in the newly identified potential areas. Currently, about 14 companies are involved in oil palm production in the State.

The State government has also been encouraging progressive farmers to take up oil palm plantations so that they could become role models for other farmers. As part of government incentive schemes, the authorities are providing oil palm plants worth Rs 200 at Rs 25 per plant.

The government offers Rs 36,000, including a Rs 24,000 subsidy, for the first year and Rs 5,000 in the second and third years for cultivation. However, authorities are giving permission to cultivate oil palm only after farmers install water-conserving micro-irrigation systems.