Is Palm Oil a planned recipe for disaster in Arunachal Pradesh?
By Jon Pebi Tato
Lately, there has been a fuss going in & around the state wherein hundreds have heeded to that abruptly after HCM Pema Khandu posted the matter of discussion pertaining to the cultivation of Palm Oil in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. With the words churning out from the environmental activists and few concerned laymen, the thoughts on the plantation of palm oil have completely overturned the Plans and Ideas of the state government with that of the indigenous communities. This is not the first time that the state has indulged in the discussion on Palm oil Cultivation, it was only after HCM Khandu gave it a boost through his social media post, the matter had come to the limelight unlike ever before.
The article tends to highlight the implication of Palm Oil, its Negative & Positive aspects in the state.
What is Palm Oil?
In a lucid manner, the "Palm Oil " is a species of Palm trees that produces a very high quality of edible oils, wherein if we talk about a country like India, where a day doesn't pass by without the demography consumes vegetables made out of using the Edible Oil, In Layman's term, it is a cooking oil which is useful for frying vegetables and other eatable items.
Where is the Palm Oil grown?
The Palm oil plant is basically a tropical plant & it's grown mostly in the tropical region, wherein a country like India is not an exception or North-East in Particular.
Oil palm is a humid tropical crop and thrives best in the areas where the temperature ranges from 22°C to 24°C (minimum) and 20°C to 33°C (maximum). In simple terms, it requires good rainfall and well-drained deep loamy moist, and alluvial soils rich in organic matter.
Why in the NEWS?
On August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a support of Rs 11,000 crore to incentivize oil palm production in the country, and the footsteps of Modi tend to be hovering around the state, with the hullabaloo of the Palm Oil cultivation and inviting investors to set up industry. The statement given by HCM Pema Khandu viz "Arunachal Pradesh offers great Potential for the Cultivation of Oil Palm", signalled the investors that the State government might be ready to go for it.
2. Reducing the import dependence
NEGATIVE IMPLICATIONS OF THE PALM OIL (IN THE PERSPECTIVE OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH)
Palm Oil cultivation has never been successful without a big amount of price, the price of ecological damage. A country like Indonesia can be taken as a solid example wherein the country apart from exporting huge Palm oil and earning surpluss, had to suffer backlashes from nature itself, and today it has been globally understood.
According to the experts, "the Palm oil is invasive species of plant", hence given the widespread destruction of rainforests and native biodiversity caused by oil palm plantations in Southeast Asia, environmental experts and politicians are warning that the Centre’s move to promote their cultivation in India’s northeastern states and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands could be disastrous.
Arunachal Pradesh in particular now has country's one of the largest stretches of virgin forests endowed with a vibrant ecosystem where one can feel like living in a paradise, but with the cultivation of Palm Oil, the state must loose its forest and thus the species living with it. Environmental degradation is inevitable & it will be detrimental to livelihood and contribute further to climate change.
According to wordwildlife.org "Large-scale conversion of tropical forests to oil palm plantations has a devastating impact on a huge number of plant and animal species. Oil palm production also leads to an increase in human-wildlife conflict as populations of large animals are squeezed into increasingly isolated fragments of natural habitat. The habitats destroyed frequently contain rare and endangered species or serve as wildlife corridors between areas of genetic diversity. Even national parks have been severely impacted"
A few years back the citizens and inhabitants of the Malaysian Palm Oil field rose against its government pertaining to the Palm Oil issue stating how badly it has damaged their ancestral forest.
Get out of our forest! Stop stealing our land!" bellowed the natives of Malaysia from the UNESCO declared World Heritage Site.
A similar event might be witnessed in the state if the citizens don't wake up from the deep slumber.
According to "Conservation India"__Oil palm plantations will have to replace other forms of land use in Arunachal Pradesh. A majority of Arunachal’s lands are community-managed Unclassified State Forests (USF). Sixty two percent of Arunachal’s forest cover consists of USFs. Therefore, unlike replacing other crops in the rest of India, oil palm will replace USFs in Arunachal Pradesh (and the rest of northeast India). Oil palm expansion has already led to massive deforestation, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia. Scientific studies have shown that in Malaysia, at least 16% of forest loss between 1990 and 2005 has been because of oil palm, and 55% of oil palm plantations have been established by clearing primary forest. In Arunachal, USFs provide important products and services to entire tribal communities, including timber, bamboo, medicinal plants, and clean water and air. Also, a significant part of these forests are used for shifting cultivation (or jhum) by most Arunachali people. Unlike oil palm, jhum uses “natural cycles of forest regeneration” to cultivate of multiple crops that can provide a balanced diet, without polluting chemical inputs. Replacing these forests with oil palm will mean the outright loss of all these benefits for the people of Arunachal.
POSITIVE IMPACTS OF PALM OIL IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH
No.1 Economic Benefits:
The palm oil industry has helped lift millions of people out of poverty in Indonesia and Malaysia, which together account for around 85 percent of global production. Oil palm plantations have created millions of well-paying jobs and enabled tens of thousands of smallholder farmers to own their own land, Therefore it can help uplift the state's unemployment issue by employing several hundred.
No.2 Little amount of Efficiency:
Oil palms are significantly more efficient than other oil-producing crops. A single hectare of land can produce 4.17 metric tons of palm oil a year, Arunachal can earn lakhs of revenue by selling it to the neighbouring state and even across the nation . With growing self-generated Revenue, the state can further use it for another developmental process.
CHALLENGES FOR THE STATE
Having discussed with the investors, it was made clear that the state has to provide the required amount of land for the said cultivation, but now the question is "who will provide their land to have submerged under the futuristic envisages of earning through the palm oil"
On September First week HCM Pema requested the Centre for increasing the area under oil palm cultivation in the state to 12,000-15,000 hectares in the first year of the Centre’s new mission to boost its production.
On 28th September he posted that, "Arunachal Pradesh offers great potential for cultivation of OilPalm" He Chaired a day-long meeting to discuss on the development of oil palm in Arunachal vis-a-vis the National Mission on Edible Oil - Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) with the prominent oil palm developers and processing companies in the country - 3F Oil Palm Agrotech Pvt Ltd and Patanjali-Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd.