Arunachal Pradesh to go ahead with oil palm cultivation despite environmentalists' concerns

Three private firms, including Dabur India have expressed their interest in collaborating with the Arunachal government
Last Updated 29 September 2021, 14:20 IST

The Arunachal Pradesh government held a discussion with at least four organisations, including three private companies — who showed interest to invest in the frontier state — to take up cultivation and production of aroma oil and palm on a mission mode on Tuesday.

Representatives of Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow, 3F Industries Ltd, Hyderabad, Ruchi Soya Industries Limited, Andhra Pradesh, and Dabur India Limited, Ghaziabad, submitted proposals to Chief Minister Pema Khandu to invest in the sector.

3F Industries, a private firm, requested Khandu to allot land for starting a processing plant for production of oil palm. The company ventured into palm oil production in the state in 2012 in the Lower Dibang Valley district but could not start a factory due to lack of land.

Ruchi Soya Industries Limited, which signed an MoU with the state government for East Siang district in 2014 and was further allotted the districts of West Siang, Kamle, Lower Siang, Papumpare and Pakke-Kessang in 2016 for oil palm production said it was willing to invest over Rs 500 crore for nurseries, extension, palm oil factory/refinery. It requested the government to provide at least 25 hectare land for establishment of a 5MT/hour mill in the state.

Proposing a foray into the state for the first time, Dabur India, one of the top five FMCG companies in India, showed interest to collaborate in the field of procuring medicinal plant raw materials, cultivate special medicinal plants like ‘Ashta-varga’ (8 RET orchids) as a special package for 2-3 years cycle. Dabur has a manufacturing unit at Tezpur in neighbouring Assam.

Appreciating the interest shown by the organisations, Khandu said the government would take a decision soon.

"I have already discussed in detail with the deputy commissioners of 10 districts falling in the foothill areas on utilising vast stretches of unused wastelands for benefit of our farmers. We are committed to uplift the economy of our farmers as well as contribute to further our country’s economy. At the same time, I want to ensure that our existing forests will not be touched,” Khandu said in a statement.

This comes weeks after the Centre announced a Rs 11,040 crore scheme for commercial cultivation of oil palm in the Northeast and Andaman on a mission mode in order to cut import cost of edible oil. The scheme, however, left environmentalists worried, who claimed that large scale cultivation of oil palm would have an adverse impact on the ecology of the biodiversity-rich Northeast.

CIMAP, which is a frontline research lab of CSIR dedicated to high-quality research in the area of biological and chemical sciences of plants, expressed interest to collaborate with the state government in production of aromatic plants such as mints, scented geranium, rosemary, citronella, lemongrass, vetiver, patchouli, etc.

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(Published 29 September 2021, 14:20 IST)

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