Monday, January 30, 2023

Palm oil plantation: Agriculture department to float Expression of Interest EoI for empanelment of firms

After having terminated the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with M/s Shivasais Oil Palm Pvt Ltd in August this year, the Agriculture Department was now looking forward to float an Expression of Interest (EoI) for empanelment of companies/implementing partners.
Subject Matter Specialist and Programme Officer in-charge of National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) Ronchamo Kikon said this during a technical session of agriculture officers’ coordination meeting here on Friday.
He said the cultivation of oil palm started in 2015-16 and an MoU was signed with Shivasais Oil Palm Private Ltd, Andhra Pradesh on September 11, 2014. Accaording to him, favourable agro-climatic conditions in foothill areas of the State and increased irrigation potential made oil palm cultivation suitable.
Kikon stressed for crop diversification from paddy/maize to other remunerative crops, pointing out that plantation in cultivable wastelands could be done without disturbing the biodiversity. As per records, he mentioned that 5,423 ha spread across the State had been covered with cultivation, while fruit plantation areas stood at 1,127 ha and total Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFBs) production stood at 1654.07 MT. He disclosed that the State was in the process of establishing seed gardens, nurseries and processing mills all of which had been approved under NMEO-OP (2022-23).
However, he mentioned that oil palm plantation area in the State had shrunk due to long gestation period and it did not encourage small and marginal farmers to take up oil palm cultivation due to resource constraints.
Also, collection centres hot not yet been established, while wild animals and rodents caused damage to plantation. Fragmented land holding was another reason that affected plantation, he added. Kikon acknowledged delay in establishment of crude palm oil extraction mills, while poor road conditions posed difficulty for collection of FFBs during the monsoons. He added that ecological concerns over oil palm plantation in both print and social media also hindered growth of oil palm plantation. He said the Agriculture Department envisaged to extend plantation areas in sustainable manner along the hugely potential foothills areas of the State. He mentioned that plantation would be done on a cluster mode in districts under two zones – Peren, Dimapur, Chümoukedima, Niuland and Wokha districts under zone 1 and Mokokchung, Longleng and Mon districts under zone 2.
In his address, ICAR – Indian Institute of Palm Oil Research (IIOPR) director Dr RK Mathur urged the Agriculture Department to depute some officials to its research centre where they would be updated on new technologies. He called for identification of local entrepreneurs and advised involving NGOs and Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) so that the farmers were not affected.
The technical session was moderated by joint director of agriculture N Jacob Yanthan.

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