'Reimpose customs duty to save palm growers'

Katti said, the Centre encouraged the cultivation of oil palm under its National Horticulture Mission (NHM) but at the same time had made import of palm oil duty free.
The dumping of crude palm oil imports into the country had resulted in steep decline in its price, Katti added.

Palm plantations are spread across 8,000 hectares in the State. The price had fallen from Rs 6,000 per tonne of fresh fruit bunches (FFBs) three years back to Rs 3,200 per tonne, he said.

He said the government will request Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to reimpose the 60 per cent customs duty on crude palm oil or provide support price to palm growers.

Pilot project

Katti said the government will utilise the funds under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to promote horticulture. As a pilot project, three lakhs saplings had been planted in Belgaum district under the afforestation programme.

The State government will also release its share of Rs 11 crore to tackle bacteria bite of pomegranate.

The Centre had already released Rs 22 crore under its vector control programme to tackle the menace, the minister said. Pomegranate is grown in 10 districts including Koppal, Chitradurga, Tumkur and Bagalkot.

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