The answer to alarming import dependency in edible oil lies in Oil Palm. Discuss citing major constraints to palm oil production in India.

The import bill for edible oil is around $10 billion, and it is India’s third-highest overseas spending after oil and gold, causing fiscal implications such as widening of Current Account deficit, depletion of foreign exchange etc.
This problem can be overcome either by increasing production of oilseeds or by promoting of such a crop with high productivity. Such crop is oil palm, known for high yield of oil per hectare.
However, increasing oil palm production in India has several constraints. Firstly, though oil palm grows in tropical reasons within 20° of Equator, yet the most ideal conditions for its optimal growth are within 8° N and S of equator. India’s mainland is thus not ideal for oil palm growth. Secondly, this plant need typical hydrology with high and regular rainfall, which is not a features of India. Thirdly, the plant needs four years to start bearing fruit bunches. This is a long gestation period. Fourthly, oil palm production in Malaysia and Indonesia is done on large swathes of lands. Such commercial plantations are impossible in India due to small land holdings and land ceiling acts which don’t recognize oil palm as a plantation crop in India. The land ceiling acts also are a reason of less proactive corporate or private sector in oil palm cultivation in India. Fifthly, the domestic production faces challenges from cheap imports from Malaysia and Indonesia and this demoralizing the production. (235 words)

Question for UPSC Mains:
"The answer to alarming import dependency in edible oil lies in Oil Palm." Discuss citing major constraints to palm oil production in India.

Published: October 27, 2015 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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