KHAMMAM: The oil palm growers in Khammam and Bhadradri-Kothagudem districts alleged that irregularities were being taken place in procuring palm fruit bunches from various collection centres to oil factories in Apparaopeta in Dammapet mandal and Aswaraopet being run by Telangana State Cooperative Oilseeds Cooperative Federation (TSCOCF).
The farmers demanded an enquiry on the misuse of funds in the collection of fresh fruit bunches (FFB). The two palm oil factories should lift the FFBs from the collection centres of Errupalem, Mudigonda, Sattupalli, Paloncha and Wyra. Oil palm growers place their produce at these centres and the factories shift the FFBs from there.
The TSCOCF pays `2,800 more per ton FFB being collected from Errupalem and Mudigonda in the form of transport charges and backdoor incentives. But the amount does not go into the pockets of oil palm growers and it is paid to the agents, who were appointed by the federation against the norms, according to the palm growers.
The oil palm is growing only in 62 acres in Errupalem mandal. The records showed that 7,457 tons of FFBs were transported from the Errupalem centre in the crop year of 2020-21, which begins November 1 and ends on October 31. There is no scope for shifting 620 tons from the centre if one can consider the extent of the palm grown there. There are allegations that the officials, who are lifting FFBs from Hanuman Junction and other places in Andhra Pradesh, are showing it as from Errupalem centre. It is against the norms. The Apparaopet and Aswaraopet oil factories should not lift oil palm from other than its area. The same tactic is played from Mudigonda lifting centre. The officials showed 6,400 tons of FFBs from Mudigonda centre where the crop area is below 100 acres. The misuse of funds is estimated around `2.5 crore with the false lifting, they alleged.
Maddineni Venkat, an oil palm grower in Dammapet said such irregularities would have an effect on real oil palm growers. “The two factories were set up on cooperative lines and the oil palm growers get the oil extraction rate (OER) based on the revenue of the factories in a particular crop year. Paying `2,800 per ton more by illegal means to the collection agents will hit the interests of the palm growers,” he said.
About Rs 1 crore was paid to the agents in the form of transport and other charges. There is a demand from farmers to conduct an enquiry into these irregularities.