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Oil palm plantation: Irreversible transformation of terrains

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Potential areas identified for oil palm cultivation are said to be in foothills and mid-hill areas. Amidst raging controversy over land ownership rights in hill areas, how oil palm plantation is taken up is to be seen in the state, where even planting of trees on World Environment Day ran into trouble.

By Laishram Nandalal

India’s North East, which is a part of the Indo Burma ‘Hotspot”, seems to be gradually crumbling under increasing pressure to unleash its resources for economic development. The region is bracing for an irreversible transformation of its terrains by embracing large-scale oil palm plantation. ‘

This industry-driven project for plantation of oil palm, a plant belonging to the family Arecaceae, a native of West Africa, was put on mission mode by the Union government of India and the state governments to achieve India’s target for self-reliance in edible oil. The project involves investment of over Rs 11,000 crore.

As much as 9,67,981 hectares of land in the North East have been earmarked as potential areas for plantation of oil palms for phase-I and phase-II. Out of this potential area, plantation of oil palms has been already initiated in 38,922 hectares.

READ https://thefrontiermanipur.com/stage-set-for-big-push-to-oil-palms-plantation-in-manipur/

However, the project will not be a cakewalk when it transpires on the ground as environmentalists and farmers have grave misgivings about India’s National Mission on Oil Seed & Oil Palm. They raised concern over possible adverse environmental impacts of plantation of oil palms on ecologically fragile and biodiversity hotspot North Eastern region.

The Manipur Government is holding a high-level One-Day National Workshop on Promotion of Oil Palm in Manipur at Hotel Classic Grande, Chingmeirong, Imphal East. Delegates from across the country will be participating in the workshop, which will be inaugurated by chief minister N Biren Singh as chief guest.

In the workshop, there will be open discussion with farmers on promotion in the North Eastern Region in the third session after the Technical Session and Media Interactive Session. Among others, Business Head, Godrej Agrovet Pvt Ltd and Head-NE (OP) Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd, Guwahati will take part in the open discussion.

As per the report, the Assessment Committee, Ministry of Agriculture, GOI has identified 66,652 hectares in six districts of Manipur as potential areas for oil palm cultivation. The six districts are Imphal West (14,516 hectares), Thoubal (18,475 hectares), Bishnupur (10,389 hectares), Churachandpur (11,662 hectares), Chandel (6,803 hectares) and Ukhrul (4,808 hectares).

READ https://thefrontiermanipur.com/oil-palm-cultivation-66652-hectare-of-land-in-six-districts-of-manipur-identified-as-potential-area-says-union-agriculture-minister/

Potential areas identified for oil palm cultivation are said to be in foothills and mid-hill areas. Amidst raging controversy over land ownership rights in hill areas, how oil palm plantation is taken up is to be seen in the state, where even planting of trees on World Environment Day ran into trouble.

READ https://thefrontiermanipur.com/exclusive-northeast-india-set-for-major-environmental-crisis-with-oil-palm-cultivation/

Besides, with some farmers’ organisations and environmentalists resolving to oppose the plantation of oil palm in state tooth and nail citing its detrimental impacts on environments in the various major palm oil producing countries, only time will tell whether the project is destined to remain on paper or the state meets the fate of Indonesia and Malaysia.

(Laishram Nandalal is Associate Editor, The Frontier Manipur)

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