4/4/05 Oilmandi - The government has decided to promote oil palmcultivation in the country in a bid to reduce dependence on vegetable oilimports. A 500-million-rupee outlay has been earmarked for this projectunder the Tenth Plan (2002-07), a senior agriculture ministry officialsaid Monday.
India currently spends U.S. $1,800 million per year on edible oil imports.
Emphasis is being laid on domestic palm oil production as the oil yieldfrom palm is 10-15 times higher than other oilseeds, the official said.
With palm oil imports pegged at around 3.5 million tonnes, India is theworld's biggest buyer of palm oil.
The country produces an average 300,000 tonnes palm oil per year.
The government had launched Oil Palm Development Programme under the NinthPlan to promote cultivation of oil palm in the country.
During the Tenth Plan, an additional area of 50,000 hectares is to bebrought under oil palm cultivation, the official said.
A further 70,000-hectare acreage for oil palm has been fixed in advancefor the Eleventh Plan.