[Answered] Discuss the desirability of National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) for reducing import dependence of India for Palm oil.

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Introduction: Write a brief note on NMEO-OP.
Body: Write some reasons for the dependence of palm oil import. Write some points regarding NMEO-OP role in reducing import.
Conclusion: Write a brief conclusion

The National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) has been launched with the aim to augment the availability of edible oil in the country by harnessing area expansion, increasing crude palm oil production with the aim to reduce the import burden.

Need of NMEO-OP:

  • Import dependence: India produces less than 0.7 million tonnes of palm oil annually. Since domestic production is not sufficient to meet the demand, India imports around 9 million tonnes of palm oil annually.
  • Diverse use: Demand for palm oil is driven by high consumption due to its various usage in the food industry in India. It is a raw material for the Indian bakery industry, which is projected to reach $12 billion by 2024.
  • Economical: According to FAO’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, 194.4 million people are still undernourished in India and palm oil provides a cheap solution to address the issue.

Issues associated with the mission:

  • Ecological damage: The mission focuses on biodiversity hotspots and ecologically fragile regions. As witnessed in Southeast Asia, oil palm plantations would denude forest cover and destroy the habitat of endangered wildlife.
  • Impact on tribal lands: the mission does not focus on community ownership of land in these regions. Thus, it may detach tribal from their identity linked with the community ownership of land.
  • Water stress: The palm plantation is a water intensive crop, which requires 300 liters of water per tree per day. Thus, it can lead to water stress in the growing region.
  • Invasive species: It is not a natural forest product of north-eastern India. Thus, its impact on biodiversity as well as on soil conditions has to be analyzed.
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands have some prior experiences in palm oil plantations. A 1,593-hectare area on Little Andaman used to be cultivated. However, it was abandoned on the instructions of the Supreme Court, as much of the lands were protected or reserve forests.

Palm oil lies at the core of India’s edible oil market owing to its low prices and the country’s need for food security. It should be produced in a responsible manner that does not damage the environment and is beneficial to communities.

 

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