Karnataka-based MK Agrotech, a leading edible oil and food company in India and M11 Industries, today announced the launch of its ambitious oil palm plantations program in Odisha. The Karnataka-based companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Odisha under the National Mission on Edible Oils - Oil Palm (NMEO-OP).
The oil palm plantation program has been launched in Nuapada and Bolangir districts, with 31 farmers on board. By 2029-30, the plan is to commence a palm oil mill in the state, with FFB processing capacity of 10 Metric Tons per Hour (TPH) initially. M11 Industries’s team has initiated, in full swing, identifying progressive and interested farmers for oil palm plantations in Bolangir and Nuapada districts in Odisha.
This will be followed by dedicated training, technical support, capacity building, assistance in establishing nurseries, and supply of quality planting materials to farmers. Micro irrigation will be the game changer and will focus on ensuring the farmers have irrigation systems installed in their farms. Technically sound with an experienced extension team has been indefatigably discharging their job responsibilities day and night in this arena of oil palm extension and development.
The oil palm plantations will be productive to a greater extent in Bolangir and Nuapada districts as they come into contact with the oil palm farmers from the neighboring Bargarh district, which has almost similar climatic and soil conditions. The farmers in Bargah are pleased with oil palm plantations, thanks to their returns and profits, limited marketing, less labor-intensive crops, and a threefold increase in profit than paddy.
Currently, India is the largest importer of edible oils in the world. In 2020-21, India imported about 13.35 million tonnes of edible oils worth INR 80,000 crore. Among the imported edible oils, the share of palm oil is the highest (60%), followed by soybean oil (25%) and sunflower (15%). Domestic edible oil production has not been able to keep pace with the growth in yearly consumption, which has exceeded 25 million tonnes.
Elaborating on MK Agrotech’s strategic decision to foray into oil palm plantations in Odisha, Mannan Khan, director of MK Agrotech, said, “Oil palm-originated from West Africa is comparatively a new crop in India and around nine million tonnes or more- of palm oil have been imported every year. Interestingly, oil palms can produce the highest yearly oil yield per hectare. In comparative terms, its yield is more than three times the average oil yield per hectare per year we receive from domestic traditional oilseeds. Over the decades, the Government of India has been making continual efforts to expand the area under cultivation of oil palm across various states in India to maximize the domestic production of edible oils and to bring down the excessive reliance on imports.
MK Agrotech’s flagship brand, Sunpure, is India’s foremost edible oil brand and the country’s first chemical-free, processed, and physically refined oil with government-patented technology. Over the last 28 years, the company has substantially reduced India’s dependence on imports to meet its edible oil requirements.
“At MK Agrotech, we share the vision of ‘Make in India’ and self-sufficiency in edible oil production. Partnering with the Government in implementing NMEO-OP in Odisha is a long-term commitment to work towards an inclusive Indian economy that maximizes the benefits for the farmers and all the other stakeholders,” added Mannan.
Nasim Ali, adviser to MK Agrotech (former chief executive officer- Oil Palm Plantation Division, Godrej Agrovet) said, “The plan is to adopt a cluster approach and develop a few model farming plots with the farmers in Bolangir district and Nuapada district. There are primarily two requirements for oil palm plantation – at least half a hectare of land and assured water availability throughout the year for irrigating the crop. It’s a less labor-intensive crop and can easily provide farmers with an assured net annual income of INR 1.5 lakh per hectare or more once the plantation is matured. The need of the hour is greater awareness, and we are working on campaigns, especially at the village level, with the support of various government authorities at the local level. At MK Agrotech, we strongly believe that a sustainable approach that empowers all stakeholders is the best strategy for success.”
Under NMEO-OP, the government provides substantial financial support through various subsidies to encourage farmers to grow palm oil. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Kerala are the central palm oil-producing States, accounting for nearly 90% of the country’s total production.