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Leading Indian agribusinesses Godrej Agrovet Limited (GAVL) and Patanjali have partnered with the Nagaland government to increase oil palm cultivation in the state’s foothill areas, the India Blooms news service reported.

The aim of the project was to revitalise the region’s agricultural landscape and improve the economic prospects of local farmers, the 9 August report said.

The region offered untapped potential for oil palm plantation in Nagaland’s foothill regions – particularly in Dimapur, Niuland, Peren, Chümoukedima, Wokha, Mokokchung, Mon, and Longleng – Soumyadeep Dutta, head of Market Development at Godrej Agrovet Limited (GAVL), was quoted as saying in a report by The Morung Express.

Nagaland currently has approximately 5,423ha under oil palm cultivation across seven districts, with plans to expand this to 15,000ha under the National Mission of Edible Oils (NEMO), according to the report.

The state’s flat districts offered favourable conditions for higher production compared to hilly terrain regions such as Mizoram, where production rates were held back by topography and limited resources, Dutta said.

Dutta emphasised the importance of increasing production, saying that around 5,500-6,500 tonnes/year were necessary to establish a processing plant. To achieve this, the output per hectare needed to be increased to five-six tonnes, he added.

To support the expansion, GAVL and Patanjali signed separate agreements with the Nagaland government earlier this year, with GAVL taking responsibility for Zone-I and Patanjali for Zone-II, the report said.

As part of the partnership, GAVL would provide farmers with support, quality seedlings, technical expertise, and a commitment to the partnership for the next 25-30 years, India Blooms wrote.

Although the project could raise environmental concerns, Nagaland government agriculture advisor Mhathung Yanthan was quoted as saying it would lead to economic benefits for farmers, the report said.

Farmers would be offered a guarantee of acceptable buy-back rates for their produce, he added.

GAVL also announced plans to set up a solution centre to provide oil palm farmers with technical assistance, knowledge sharing and essential resources, the report said.