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3.75 lakh hectares allotted for palm cultivation in Assam

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Aug 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed on the need to produce palm oil locally in the country, revealed Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday.

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He said this while launching the plantation drive of palm trees at Dibru Saikhowa in Dhola in the Tinsukia district. The plantation drive has been organised by the state agriculture department in collaboration with the Tinsukia district administration and Patanjali Foods Limited as part of the National Mission on Edible Oils.

The Union government has launched an oil palm planting campaign from July 25 to August 5 this year to increase the area under oil palm cultivation in the country.

Under this mission a total of 3.75 lakhs hectares of land will be brought under palm cultivation across the state.

Speaking on the issue, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The government has been mulling over starting local production of palm oil for some time now. PM Modi has stressed on the need to produce palm oil in the country, which will enhance the economic condition of farmers along with boosting production of oil.”

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India at present imports palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia at an estimated cost of Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

“People in Goalpara and Dhubri districts have begun cultivation of palm oil about eight to nine years ago. Small time tea cultivators can also adopt palm oil cultivation to enhance their earnings,” said Sarma.

The chief minister also said that the government procures rice from farmers at a minimum support price that helps them in earning profits. The process of procuring mustard from farmers has also begun.

This will produce a significant amount of oil. Oil dates yield five times more than Mustard. The chief minister said that up to Rs 3 lakh can be earned from one hectare of land.

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The state government plants to promote this cultivation by dividing 18 districts into six zones. Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts will fall in zone I, Jorhat, Golaghat, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts in zone II, Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts in zone III and Kamrup, Kamrup Metropolitan, Goalpara and Nagaon districts zone IV.

While zone V will comprise of Chirang, Udalguri and Sonitpur districts, Hailakandi, Kachar and Karimganj will fall under Zones VI.

The state government has listed four experienced oil palm companies for implementation of this scheme and the companies have been entrusted with the responsibility of expanding oil palms in the allotted districts.

While Patanjali Foods Limited has been given 60,300 hectares in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagaon and Kamrup districts, the Godrej Agrovet Limited has been allotted 34,250 hectares in Hailakandi, Kachar and Karimganj.

On the other hand, 3- F Oil Palm will be allocated 23,550 hectares in Chirang and Lakhimpur districts.  KE Cultivation has been allocated 25,650 hectares of land in Sonitpur and Dhemaji districts.

The first pilot projects were conducted in Goalpara and Kamrup districts in 2015 and now they are yielding results currently. The chief minister said that other crops can be grown alongside this oil date.

“Our government is trying to form a joint venture comprising of farmers, separate producer societies, self- help groups, agronomists, public representatives, government officials and oil palm companies to advance the entire process of oil palm cultivation. It will be a milestone in the development and expansion of oil palm cultivation in the coming days,” said Sarma said.

The chief minister also said that Assam has made considerable progress in the field of agriculture. He said the export of red rice from Majuli to Europe and lemon from Tinsukia to Birmingham and Dubai is a good sign for the farmers of Assam. He added that those who do not have ration cards will be given ration cards in October and through these ration cards they will get medical benefits upto  Rs 5 lakh along with free rice.

Speaking about the Arunodoi scheme the chief minister said that in the first phase another 7 lakh beneficiaries and another 8 lakh beneficiaries will be added in the second phase. He also assured that the monthly allowance of under the scheme will be increased from Rs 1250 to Rs 1400.

Agriculture minister Atul Bora, MLAs Bolin Chetia, Bhaskar Sharma, Rupesh Goala, Suren Phukan, Ponakan Baruah, CEM Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council Tuliram Ronghang, additional chief secretary Agriculture Asish Kumar Bhutani, functionaries of PFL and host of other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

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