KARACHI - After hectic efforts and long await, one of the most important project in the agricultural sector, the cultivation of palm oil has been proved a success as Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Mohammad Gondal performed the foundation stone laying ceremony of the first palm oil mill in Thatta, the other day. The palm oil mill will be constructed at a cost of Rs59.743m over an area of 300 acres by the Pakistan Oil Development Board near Ghulamullah town, some 20km from here. Speaking on the occasion, the minister said that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto first conceived the project and taken keen interest in the cultivation of oil seeds and production of edible oil in Pakistan. It was the government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that had imported palm oil seedlings from Malaysia in 1996 and now President Asif Ali Zardari has taken up this project once again, he said. A sum of Rs2 billion is being spent on the import of edible oil every year, Gondal said, adding that after the commissioning of this mill, large amounts of foreign exchange would be saved. He said that the land of Thatta and Badin districts, especially coastal areas, are extremely suitable for the plantation and production of palm trees. He said that each tree would be beneficial up to 25 years and the growers can earn Rs 56,000 per acre from the crops each year. The country spends more than $800m on edible oil imports annually. It has been reported that more than 8,000 acres of land in Sindh and nearly the same size along the coastal areas of Balochistan would be brought under oil palm cultivation in the near future. Palm Oil is the most productive crop with an annual yield of about five tonnes of crude palm oil/ha. It is reported that after soybean, palm oil is the second major oil produced in the world. Sources in the PODB said that Board is looking after the Palm Oil Development Project and was working on it from 1996 and after successful cultivation of the crops of Palm oil on the land of Thattat and Badin, in Sindh and Lasbella, Othal and Gawadar in Balochistan so far, the cultivation has been spread over one thousand acres of land. And now, the time has come to reap the benefits of this cultivation. Thus, foundation stone of first Palm oil mill has been put to extract the oil from the fruits of the cultivation. Sources said that whatever Pakistan has achieved in Oil Palm project, it is due to the generosity and kindness of brother country Malaysia who had provided all assistance and support in this regard. They provided all the technical assistance, consultancy, seeds, oil extraction process and other experiences to make success in the cultivation of oil palm on Pakistani soil, sources said. Sources said that the dream has come true in 2009, which was first seen by former premier Benazir Bhutto, when the great visionary leader Benazir Bhutto, conceived the project in her second tenure as Prime Minister and brought the technology to harvest the oil palm trees in convenience of the former Malaysian PM Muhatir Muhammad. Palm oil is a vegetable oil and does not contain cholesterol with saturated cholesterol less than that of the coconut. It is consumed in cooking, margarines and shortening, and as an ingredient in fat blends and food products like bakery and confectionery, ice-creams and chocolates. It should be classified as both saturated and unsaturated fat. The saturated fatty acids are made up of 44 per cent palmatic acid and five per cent stearic acid. Sources said that the plant of the oil palm first to be planted in the nursery for two years period, then it is shifted into the fields where after plantation of three years it start providing fruits and now time has come in Pakistan that first cultivation is going to be harvested and need to installed the mills to extracts oil. Sources said that if Pakistan cultivates the oil palm on 5 lacks acre land in the future, then they would be self-sufficient in the production of oil palm. Sources said that PODB has established an advanced farm of oil palm on 250 acres land in Lasbella, Baluchistan.