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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 30 August, 2021

  • 12 Min Read

Issues in National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm

Issues in National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm

  • In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, soon after the launch of the 11,040 crore National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP), Meghalaya MP Agatha Sangma warned that the focus areas were “biodiversity hotspots and ecologically fragile” and oil palm plantations would denude forest cover and destroy the habitat of endangered wildlife.
  • The palm is an invasive species. It is not a natural forest product of northeastern India and its impact on our biodiversity as well as on soil conditions has to be analysed even if it is grown in non-forest areas. Any kind of monoculture plantation is not desirable,
  • Given the widespread destruction of rainforests and native biodiversity caused by oil palm plantations in Southeast Asia, environmental experts and politicians are warning that the Union government’s move to promote their cultivation in the northeastern States and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be disastrous.
  • Other concerns include the impact on community ownership of tribal lands, as well as the fact that the oil palm is a water-guzzling, monoculture crop with a long gestation period unsuitable for small farmers.
  • However, the government says land productivity for palm oil is higher than that for oilseeds, with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar giving an assurance that the land identified for oil palm plantations in the northeastern States is already cleared for cultivation.
  • It could also detach tribespeople from their identity linked with the community ownership of land and “wreak havoc on the social fabric”.
  • Congress leader and former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said proposals for large-scale oil palm cultivation had been studied and rejected as part of the technology mission on edible oils in the late 1980s as it was a “recipe for ecological disaster”.

Source: TH


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