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Oil palm plantation will not affect environment: MS Khaidem

Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, October 16 2021: While noting that the people of the state are apprehensive that the plantation of oil palm might degrade the environment, agriculture expert MS Khaidem has clarified that after thorough discussion with experts it has been established that oil palm plantation will not harm the ecological balance but will instead help in carbon sequestration.

While stating that he attended a business summit organised by Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on 'National Mission on Edible Oil Palm' at Guwahati on October 5, MS Khaidem informed that the National Mission launched under the Union agriculture ministry is eyeing to sustainably tap oil palm potential in the northeast including Manipur.

Speaking to The People's Chronicle, he conntended as per a research conducted by the Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research, out of the total area of 25 lakh hectares earmarked for oil palm plantation, 9.62 lakh hectares are in the northeast and 66,652 hectares have been identified for plantation in six districts of Manipur including Imphal West, Thoubal, Bishnupur, Chandel, Ukhrul and Churachandpur.

India is one of the largest consumers of edible oil with around 133.50 lakh tonnes of palm oil imported in 2020-2021 and an amount of Rs ' 80,000 crore spent, he informed and stated to save such huge expenditure, the union governmentlaunched the mission and allotted Rs 11,080 crore in the budget for the oil palm projects in Andaman and Nicobar Island and North Eastern states.

MS Khaidem also recounted that experts at the business summit were unanimous that oil palm plantation helps in carbon sequestration.

During the summit, Dr RK Mathur (director ICAR-IIOPR) informed that the photosynthetic impact of oil palm is high in tropical forest regions and as such if edible oil extractable plants are grown in the country for 20 years, then 20-25 carbon tonnes could be sequestrated.

Explaining that the oil palm plantation in North Eastern states will carried out in barren foothills where Jhum cultivation is already in practice, MS Khaidem continued that plants suitable to the area along with the oil palm will be planted in that barren area.

Thus, oil palm plantation will help in rejuvenating forest land which became barren due to Jhum cultivation, he maintained while reiterating that no harm will be caused to the environment by the project.

He further stated that oil palm is suitable in rain fed conditions of the northeast region.

There is no need for watering the plants in dry season.

When 95 lakh litres of water is used in oil plantation per hectare in a year, 300 lakh litres of water is necessary for cultivating paddy rice per hectare in two seasons, 133 lakh litres for planting sugarcane and 120 lakh Jitres for banana, he compared.