India plans huge palm oil expansion, puts forests at risk
While Malaysia and Indonesia produce over 85% of the world’s palm oil, India is its largest importer. To boost palm cultivation, the Ministry of Agriculture introduced a Special Program on “Oil Palm Area Expansion” in 2011-12 aimed at increasing oil palm production in the 12 states from 50,000 to 300,000 metric tons in the next five. This plantations expansion falls within the government’s New Land Use Policy (NLUP) to wean farmers away from their traditional practice of subsistence farming. But conversion to oil palm plantations is not only leading to the destruction of forests and biodiversity but also is undermining food sovereignty, traditional knowledge and agricultural practices from local farmers.