The government is next week planning to bring a Cabinet note on fixing fair and remunerative price of 8,000-8,500 rupees per tn on oil palm fresh fruit bunches, a senior government official said today.
"There is no fair and remunerative price of fresh fruit bunches of oil palm grown in the country at present. An FRP (fair remunerative price) would ensure better realisation to farmers and boost domestic palm oil production," the official said.
A fair and remunerative price, which is the Centre-mandated minimum price that mills have to pay farmers for their crop, would also encourage farmers to add more area under oil palm plantations. Currently, the market price of fresh fruit bunches is around 8,000 rupees per tn, the official said.
The move, under National Mission for Vegetable Oils, is aimed at cutting the country's reliance on hefty imports of palm oil, the official said. India, the world's largest importer of palm oil, buys 8-9 mln tn annually from Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's top producers.
Oil palm, a tropical oilseed, is crushed to produce palm oil.
Currently, oil palm trees cover 325,000 ha across the country, and this might increase to 350,000 ha in 2019-20 (Apr-Mar), the official said, adding that the government is pushing to bring more area under oil palm mainly in coastal areas and the northeast. Of the total area under oil palm, fruit-bearing trees cover only 225,000 ha.
The country produces 200,000 tn of oil palm annually, way lower than the domestic requirement, the official said.
With new plantation, production might increase in the next four to five years, which is the gestation period of the oil palm tree, he said.
India has six indigenous seed gardens in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, and they produce potential sprouts every year. The government has sourced technology from Malaysia, Indonesia and Costa Rica to plant the oilseed in the country, the official said.
Palm oil accounts for over 60% of India's total edible oil imports of around 15 mln tn.
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