[MUMBAI] India, the world's biggest importer of edible oils, will develop its own sustainability framework for palm oil production considering the domestic ecology, a leading trade body said on Tuesday.
Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) said it has tied up with Hong Kong-based Solidaridad for developing a sustainability framework for India since the local environment and farming practices are different from Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's top two palm producing countries.
Palm oil, used in everything from chocolate to cosmetics, has become one of the world's fastest expanding crops, but the industry has been facing intense pressure over deforestation and methods used to clear land. That has driven many buyers to demand certification of environmentally sound behaviour.
India's imports dependency in edible oils has risen to 70 per cent and expansion of palm plantation will help in reducing imports, BV Mehta, executive director of SEA, told reporters.
India produces just 200,000 tonnes of palm oil from 250,000 hectares of plantations and imports nearly 9 million tonnes per annum, according to SEA.
"There is limitation on expansion of palm plantation in Indonesia and Malaysia, but in India it could be expanded in southern and north-eastern states," said Shatadru Chattopadhayay, managing director, Solidaridad Network Asia Ltd.