Oil palm farmers in Andhra Pradesh are unwilling to continue the cultivation due to poor prices and are requesting the government to provide Rs 20,000 per tonne as remunerative price against the present Rs 10,000.
The national oil palm farmers’ association general secretary Kranthikumar Reddy deplored the uprooting of oil palm plantations in 1,60,000 acres due to price fluctuations and sought measures to continue the cultivation and save farmers from trouble.
Reddy said that till 1994, India was self-sufficient in edible oils. After that, it was put under the Open General Licence (OGL) category under the WTO with 65 per cent import duties. During the NDA term in 1999, most of the tariff barriers were removed. A process of import dumping was initiated, forcing edible oil seed farmers to compete with the corporate forest plantations of Malaysia and Indonesia, he said.
He recalled that in 2020-21, import duties were 49 per cent and sadly it was “zeroed” by May, 2022. As a result, crude palm oil price fell from Rs 1,46,000 per tonne to Rs 72,000, which forced oilseed farmers into despair.
Reddy said the edible oil import policy is benefitting the corporates and not the consumers and oil palm farmers. With the increase in fertilizer and other input costs, the production cost of each tonne of oil palm fresh fruit bunches (FFB's) has increased to Rs 19,000. The present price received by the farmers is only Rs 12,800 per tonne. “This reflected the deplorable conditions of oil palm cultivation.”
“We took the issue to the notice of the Union Government. The state government is seeking to re-impose import duty of 49 per cent on imported edible oils. Oil palm farmers met chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and higher central officials and got a “simple relief of imposing nominal import duties.”
“The government issued an order imposing import duties of 6-11 percent on palm oil, which is insufficient to cover even the costs of cultivation in many oilseed crops,” he said and urged the Union Government to impose 49 per cent import duty.
Reddy said four lakh farmers are engaged in oil palm cultivation. Of these, nearly 1.80 lakh farmers shunned the cultivation in AP and shifted to other crops. “The rest of these farmers are facing severe financial difficulties that would force them to shun oil palm cultivation if the government fails to initiate immediate measures,” he said.
He said the oil farm association recently submitted memorandums and sent letters to the Union Government. He urged the government to provide at least Rs 20,000 as remunerative price and increase the import duty to save oil palm farmers and help them continue the cultivation....