India Oil Palm Cultivation - The Potential and Progress
by Fatimah Zahrah Md Nan
THE AGRICULTURE sector in India accounted for about 14% of the country’s total GDP and provides employment for at least 50% of India’s population. Crop farming covers 195.25 million hectares of the total land in India, of which more than 60% of this land is planted with food grains, which are the core agriculture products for the country. India ranks as the second largest rice and wheat producer in the world, with a production of more than 200 million metric tonnes of rice and wheat annually.

While India is very well known for its position as one of the main producers of rice, the country is still struggling to fulfil the domestic requirements of other essential commodities, particularly edible oils. Despite continuous efforts undertaken by the relevant authorities under the Indian Government, oilseed production has yet to achieve the level that India requires. The cultivation area has stagnated at around 27 million ha or 14% of the total agriculture land.

At the moment, India produces about 30 to 35 million tonnes of primary oilseeds, which provides at least seven million tonnes of vegetable oils for the country. To top that amount, vegetable oils are also harvested from secondary sources, such as coconut, cottonseed and rice bran, which contribute another three million tonnes of vegetable oils for the country. However, this availability is still not sufficient to meet the growing demand of the Indian population, which is growing faster than what the country can accommodate.

Recognising the need to move forward to catch up with the growing demand for vegetable oils, the Government of India is also looking at oil palm cultivation to fuel the country with the high productivity per hectare that oil palm promises.

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