The cabinet approved Rs 11,040 crore investment for a scheme that will focus on improving the productivity of palm oil in North-eastern India and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
This move is primarily to cut down on huge palm oil imports from Indonesia and Malaysia and to make India ‘Aatmanirbhar’ (self-dependent) and scale up its palm oil production. India’s total edible oil demand is around 25 million tonnes, out of which palm oil accounts for 56%. Palm is a water-intensive crop and environmental activists are concerned about the areas where the groundwater level is dipping. The Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education, Environment Ministry maintains that the production of oil palm ‘should be avoided’ in rich biodiversity areas without detailed studies on its ecological impact.