Kohima, Aug 5 (PTI) With the Central government earmarking over Rs 11,000 crore to encourage palm oil production, Nagaland launched a mega palm oil plantation drive.
Nagaland Advisor for Agriculture and MLA, Mhathung Yanthan officially inaugurated the campaign at the Agri Expo site in Chumoukedima district on Friday, stated a DIPR release here.
Speaking on the occasion, Yanthan emphasised the significance of the drive, highlighting its national scope.
Acknowledging the environmental concerns related to oil palm plantations, he encouraged farmers and the department to take on the challenge and to invest sincere efforts in becoming proficient oil palm growers.
Head of Marketing Development at Godrej, Swamani Dutta assured the provision of essential resources like fertilizers, pesticides, and farming equipment in the coming months, along with the establishment of the first Samadhran Center in Dimapur.
Meanwhile, following the launch of the mega oil palm plantation drive, the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), on Saturday expressed concern about the long-term negative impact the commercial cultivation of oil palm could have on the health, forest, biodiversity and quality of the soil of the state.
NSF president Kegwayhun Tep and general secretary Siipuni Ng Philo said that Nagaland alone has a total of 5,423 hectares under oil palm cultivation across seven districts and efforts are being made on war-footing to expand the area under oil palm cultivation for which the Department of Agriculture appears to be leaving no stone unturned.
“Our rich bio-diversity, flora and fauna, wild fruit plants, rare medicinal plants and the habitat of rare species stands threatened to be annihilated if the plantation drive continues,” they said.
The NSF leaders said that one cannot ignore the fact that oil palm tree requires 200 to 300 litres of water per day and Nagaland as a state which often faces drought and uneven rainfall cannot afford to cultivate such a water-guzzling plant on a commercial scale.
The Federation urged upon the department to exercise utmost caution in propagating the economic benefit of plantation of palm oil.