Government plans to raise palm oil production in India by 3 lakh tonnes in 5 years

The agriculture ministry will implement a special programme to increase the area under oil palm by 60,000 hectares to over 2.11 lakh hectares, from the current 1.71 lakh hectares.

The Rs300-crore programme, to be implemented in eight states, aims at raising palm oil production in India by 3 lakh tonnes over the next 5 years.

Under the 12th Five Year Plan, the agriculture ministry is giving special focus to oilseed production in the country, which continues to lag consumption despite recent efforts at boosting production.

India's oilseed production is likely to exceed 30 million tonnes (equivalent to about 8 million tonnes of edible oil) in 2010-11. But the country still has to import more than the domestic production to meet consumption needs. In the 2010-11 financial year, India's edible oil imports stood at 8.82 million tonnes - 82 lakh tonnes more than the total domestic production.

While there are other sources of edible oil, the ministry is of the view that oil palm has the potential of increasing domestic production of edible oil by a big margin in a relatively short time.

While annual oilseed crops give less than 1 tonne edible oil per hectare, oil palm gives 4 to 6 tonnes oil per hectare. In addition, unlike other oilseed crops that need to be sown every year, oil palm has a productive life of about 25 years.