NEW DELHI, July 23 -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked farmers in the country's northeastern states to develop oil palm plantations to serve an "assured market" for the imported commodity.
Modi said agriculture scientists and economists informed him recently about the potential of oil palm plantations in the northeast region that would help India's drive for self-sufficiency.
"I request all state governments (in the northeast) to develop a palm olein mission in their respective states," Modi said via a video conference to lay the foundation stone for a water supply project in the state of Manipur.
The Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA) of India, a trade group representing oilseed crushers, welcomed Modi's call, saying that it would reduce imports.
SEA president Atul Chaturvedi said cultivable area of oil palm plantations would grow as the issue had now received attention at the highest level of the government.
The National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) has identified many states, including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Mizoram in the northeast, for expanding oil palm cultivation.
The country is planning to have about two million hectares of area under palm plantations compared with about 320,600 hectares at present.
Indonesia and Malaysia are India's main source of palm oil, constituting about 60 per cent of the country’s 15 million tonnes annual edible oil imports.