InfoSAWIT, KOLASIB - Environmental, social activists, academy, and farmers in India did not agree to expand palm oil production in the border of Northeast India because it will not be a profit for the farmers but damage the environment.
A smallholder, Lalchhana Hmar said, he and others never get annual profits that could be 30.000 rupee (US$ 400) for the money will be used to buy fertilizers, pesticides, and transportation in palm oil plantations in Kolasib, a district in Mizoram State, next to Myanmar.
Lalchhana Hmar also wants to substitute the plantation to be commercial ones, such as, bamboo and areca nut. “But digging out more than 100 palm oil trees from two hectare - areas will spend much more,” he said, as quoted from Nikkei Asia.
Prior, Mizoram Agriculture Department started encouraging smallholders to cultivate palm oil in 2016 by providing free seeds and water tanks. Hmar was the first man joining the scheme. But he sold cheap fresh fruit bunch (FFB). Pineapple intercrops in palm oil plantations was not working well.
In August 2021, the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to conclusion about Cooking Oil National Vision that promoted palm oil in the northeastern, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The 110 billion rupee - investment was announced to expand plantations to be 1 million hectares which were only about 34 thousand hectares.
More than half hectare will be in eight states in northeastern. But only northeastern state produces palm oil. Mizoram is the biggest palm oil producer so far within about 28 thousand hectares compared to Negaland that has 1.973 hectares.
“The plan will be game changing to help smallholders and create Aatmanirbhar Bharat," Miodi tweeted in August. Hindi’s term means ‘Independent India’.
India was the biggest palm oil importer in the world for about 7,2 million tons of crude palm oil (CPO) and its products or about US$ 5,1 billion in 2020. United Nations’ data showed that of the numbers, 93% derived from Indonesia and Malaysia. The two countries produced 80% of palm oil in the world.
Secretary of Palm Oil Smallholders in Kolasib District, H. Larlintluanga supported what the government does to develop palm oil plantations. He thought, traditional seed oils, such as, sesame and mustard are not durable plantations but palm oil could produce FFB for about 20 to 25 years. Palm oil trade happens in every season though it is sometimes cheap.
According to Secretary of Smallholders’ Union in Mizoram, Zion Lalremrauta, the rich smallholders and having many areas will get profits. Marginal smallholders with narrow areas in the hilly should struggle for to get water, must pay much to transport their FFB. “Many stop cultivating palm oil for they get loss,” Zion said. (T2)