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Palm Oil Development in India Faces Environmental Issues

Foto By Arie Basuki/SawitFest 2021
Palm Oil Development in India Faces Environmental Issues

InfoSAWIT, KOLASIB – In August 2021, the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed Cooking Oil National Mission to promote palm oil production in northeastern and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The 110 billion rupee – investment was announced to expand plantations to be 1 million hectares from nowadays plantations about 34 thousand hectares.

More than half hectare will be in eight states in northeastern. But only northeast state produces palm oil. Mizoram is now the biggest palm oil producer in India by planting 28 thousand hectares compared to Nagaland within about 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’.

But India committed in Paris Agreement in 2015 about additional carbon absorption for about 2,5-3 billion tons of CO2, and at least, 33% green canopy in the country in 2030 – the goals to plan in national forestry policy.

But some local environmental activists rejected palm oil development. It is afraid that it will increase deforestation in the states which are full of conservation. “How would India realize the goals which are stated in climate commitment?” Rituraj Phukan, a climate activist in the region asked.

An India’s zoology who studies monoculture ecologic impacts in Mizoram noted in his documents in 2016 mentioned that he and his team found 70 species of bird deep in the rain forests, 50 species in mixed agricultural areas, but only 10 in palm oil plantations.

Mizoram Joined Action Committee for Palm Oil that covers three non-government organizations last month, wrote to the government to ask for cancelling palm oil development.

“Exotic and dangerous species expansion, such as, palm oil will damage ecosystem in our fragile country. This will bother ecology and social order,” V. Lalzarzova of ASEP in India, on non-government organization that signed palm oil development rejection said, as quoted from Nikkei Asia.

“The people’s land and agriculture are the culture, food, way of life of indigenous people. The loss of forest will impact them for many years to go. Monoculture palm oil cultivation will make the smallholders/farmers lost kinds of plantations they can consume,” he said. (T2)