CM, stakeholders discuss aroma oil, palm oil prodn in state

ITANAGAR, 28 Sep: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday held a series of meetings with various stakeholders regarding the way forward in cultivation and production of aroma oil and palm oil in the state on a mission mode.

Representatives of Lucknow-based Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Hyderabad-based 3F Industries Ltd, Andhra Pradesh-based Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd and Ghaziabad-based Dabur India Ltd submitted their proposals to the chief minister, who was accompanied by advisor to agri-horti minister Gabriel D Wangsu, advisor to the state government HK Paliwal, the agri production commissioner, the planning commissioner, the agri-horti secretary and the agriculture director.

CIMAP senior scientist Dr RK Srivastava said the institute is interested in collaborating with the state government in production of aromatic plants such as mint, scented geranium, rosemary, citronella, lemongrass, vetiver, patchouli, etc. He informed that, “out of 25 districts, the CSIR-CIMAP proposes to implement the project initially in 15 districts for commercial cultivation and processing of aromatic crops.”

He said that the CIMAP plans to start cultivation of lemongrass, patchouli and peppermint in East Siang; lemongrass, geranium and peppermint in West Kameng; lemongrass, citronella, rosemary and patchouli in Namsai; rosemary, rose and geranium in Tawang, and geranium, rose and salvia in Shi-Yomi in the first phase.

Dr Srivastava also said that the institute proposes to “extensively engage in sustainable supply of medicinal plants and beekeeping in the state.”

Of the three private companies, 3F Industries and Ruchi Soya Industries are already operating in the field of oil palm cultivation in the state.

The operation of 3F Industries commenced in 2012 in Lower Dibang Valley district with the establishment of a nursery and an office, and manpower recruitment. It is yet to establish a palm oil factory, and therefore requested the government for “facilitation of land parcel for the same,” adding that it would start construction of the processing facility as soon as land is provided.

Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd had signed an MoU with the state government for East Siang in August 2014. It was further allotted the districts of West Siang, Kamle, Lower Siang, Papum Pare and Pakke-Kessang in 2016 for oil palm production.

The company informed that it has already established nurseries in Pasighat and Hollongi and engaged about 800 farmers to develop plantations of about 1,346 hectares.

“Ruchi will invest Rs 500-plus crores on nurseries, extension and palm oil factory/refinery,” informed the company, and requested the government to make available at least 25 hectares of land for establishment of a 5 mt/hr mill in the state.

Dabur India seeks to collaborate in the field of procuring medicinal plant raw materials and cultivating special medicinal plants like ashta-varga (8 RET orchids) as a special package for 2-3 years’ cycle, besides exploring the possibility of RM related to RET species (aconitum, hedychium, kuth, tagar, etc) “to increase the cover of procurement of tomar seeds from 10 to 100 mts in the next five years, and to introduce organized honeybee keeping in Arunachal Pradesh to harvest 5,000 to 10,000 mt in 3-5 years,” it said.

The chief minister said that all the proposals have been noted down and the government would work out strategies for successful implementation of all feasible, practical and beneficial proposals “without harming the rich biodiversity of the state.”

“I have already discussed in detail with the deputy commissioners of 10 districts falling in the foothill areas on utilizing vast stretches of unused wastelands for benefit of our farmers. We are committed to uplift the economy of our farmers as well as contribute to further our country’s economy. At the same time, I want to ensure that our existing forests will not be touched,” Khandu said.

To the requests for land for establishing processing factories, the CM assured that the respective deputy commissioners would ensure availability of land.

He asked the private companies to handhold the farmers of the state who may be novices when it comes to cultivation of medicinal plants and oil palm trees. (CM’s PR Cell)