Chief Minister Pema Khandu clarifies that identified 1.33 lakh hectares is wasteland
Contrary to some northeastern States such as Meghalaya, the Arunachal Pradesh government is keen on “reaping the benefits” of oil palm cultivation.
But Chief Minister Pema Khandu has clarified that the 1.33 lakh hectares identified for taking the National Mission on Edible Oils-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) forward is wasteland.
He had a few days ago told Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar that the State wants to increase oil palm coverage up to 15,000 hectares in the first year of the announcement of NMEO-OP.
Mr. Khandu attributed the slow coverage of oil palm cultivation in Arunachal Pradesh to the lack of commitment from promoters in setting up processing factories within the State, making farmers lose confidence.
He sought to allay fears over the impact of oil palm cultivation on forests in the State by saying the government would ensure that NMEO-OP is implemented only in wastelands.
But he rued the lack of utilisation of cultivable land. “Arunachal Pradesh has 25 lakh hectares of cultivable area of which only 2.5 lakh hectares has been put to use,” he said.
According to a study by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, 9 lakh hectares out of 28 lakh hectares recommended for oil palm cultivation are in the northeastern States. The largest chunk is in Arunachal Pradesh.
Meghalaya has been the strongest critic of the push for oil palm. The National People’s Party-led coalition government in the State said oil palm would denude forest cover and destroy the habitat of endangered wildlife in the ecologically fragile region.
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