India is planning to take its reliance on palm oil to a whole new level by clearing areas of forest and growing oil palm on an area of land that in total is close to the size of Connecticut. Now, campaigners warn this could be deadly for India’s endangered wildlife.
India’s use of palm oil has rocketed since the 1990s with imports increasing from 100,000 metric tons to over 8.8 million in 2014. Palm oil is a versatile product that can be used in baking and the preparing of food, as well as in a range of beauty products like soaps and even in animal feed products.
Palm oil is also one of the easiest crops to cultivate, and for that reason represents a lucrative market prospect. Until now, India has relied on importing palm oil to meet skyrocketing demand but in the mid-2000s, India’s government introduced a scheme that would expand oil palm cultivation to six more states. This didn’t increase production as much as was hoped and India continues to import palm oil at a massive rate (making up 17 percent of all total global palm oil consumption according to recent figures).
However, India’s government is not satisfied with this situation and plans to expand its oil palm growing capabilities even further. The Ministry of Agriculture has suggested that India could accommodate oil palm plantations up to 1.03 million hectares of land which, as mentioned above, is nearly the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut.
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