Guwahati, Oct 5: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday said the northeastern states will turn into an oil palm hub of the country with the central government's major intervention with an outlay of Rs 11,040 crore for the next five years.
Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) G Kishan Reddy urged investors and industrialists to invest in the northeastern region which has immense potential for the agricultural sector, especially palm oil.
In August, the Union Cabinet approved the National Mission on Edible Oils-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) with a financial outlay of Rs 11,040 crore to promote the domestic cultivation of oil palm in the next five years and reduce the country's dependence on edible oil imports.
The decision came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the new central scheme on August 15 during his Independence Day speech at Red Fort.
Addressing a business summit, Tomar said, "The government's decision for making major intervention in northeastern states for the oil palm promotion will turn northeastern states into oil palm hubs of the country."
The Union minister emphasised playing an equal role for the development of the crop and assured to make major investments for seed nurseries, drip irrigation, technical backup, setting of mills, purchase centres, and training of farmers.
"A special package and assistance for northeastern states will change the socioeconomic status of the farmers and will open employment opportunities in the established oil palm mills along with infrastructure development," an official statement quoted Tomar having said at the event.
The business summit has been aimed to explore the target of area expansion, seedling requirements fixed for different states through processors, details of viability gap payment, interventions and assistance under the mission, he added.
Thanking the Assam government for providing logistical support, Tomar said the new scheme will definitely pave the way towards self-sufficiency in edible oils and put India on a road of ''Atmanirbhar Bharat''.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu said it was time for investors to come and invest in the North-East in a big way to develop the agriculture sector, taking advantage of fertile lands and climate.
"Palm oil holds special significance as its cultivation can open up untapped avenues of earning for farmers in the North-East," he said.
Assam Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said that currently, farmers in two districts of Assam - Goalpara and and Kamrup are engaged in oil palm cultivation, while there is a plan of bringing 1,500 hectares of land in another 17 districts under palm oil cultivation.
Union Ministers of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary and Sobha Karandlaje and senior officers were present at the event.