India is the world’s largest importer of oil palm. In 2020 alone, India spent close to Rs. 1000 crores importing roughly 5.64 lakh tonnes of oil palm. The current consumption level of oil palm in India is 19 kg per person and is expected to rise further. It is used in nearly 50% of packaged products ranging from food to cosmetics worldwide. Targeting this rise in domestic demand, and with the intention of reducing the country’s dependence on imports, the Government of India announced a Rs. 11,040 crore scheme called, the “National Mission on Edible Oils- Oil Palm” (NMEO-OP) in August 2021.
Global studies on oil palm cultivation depict deforestation, land degradation, and habitat loss as their prominent ecological impacts. These impacts are addressed by the bulk of India’s environmental legislation,(such as the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Forest Conservation Act, 1980). However, are these regulatory measures sufficient to tackle the scale of anticipated impacts arising from India’s new oil palm expansion scheme in the ecologically sensitive regions of the northeast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI)?
Read this short article by Vidhi’s Research Fellow Anvita here. A longer version is under peer-review. We would love to hear back and discuss more.