07.05.2020 (The Hindu BusinessLine) - Trade body says government should focus on boosting oilseeds output for self-sufficiency.
As demand takes a beating and imports slump amidst a bearish price trend, the edible oil sector feels the Centre should launch the national mission on edible oilseeds to boost domestic production and achieve self-sufficiency.
India depends on imports to meet about 70 per cent of its edible oil requirement, estimated at around 23 million tonnes. The edible oil import bill hovers around a whopping $11 billion.
“The time is ripe to implement the national mission on edible oils,” said Atul Chaturvedi, President, Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEAI), the apex trade body for the sector.
The national mission, conceived about two years ago, aims to boost the production of oilseeds from the current levels of about 30 million tonnes to 45 million tonnes in three to five years. The increase in production of 15 million tonnes would roughly yield around 5 million tonnes of additional oil, he said.
Chaturvedi said the government should also launch the mustard mission to promote the oilseed, mainly in Punjab and Haryana. “We can double the mustard oil production in the country by diverting a part of the land in Punjab and Haryana by incentivising farmers to grow the crop,” he said.
The industry is ready to support the government in the initiative, which requires close coordination between the Centre and the States. The move will help wean away farmers from the rice-wheat cropping cycle and also arrest the declining trend in the watertable in the region.
The edible oil mission also proposes tapping of secondary sources of edible oils such as rice bran, cottonseed oil, minor oilseeds and domestic palm oils, said BV Mehta, Executive Director, SEA.
“We have the potential to increase production of rice bran oil from the current 1 million tonnes to 1.6 million tonnes, cotton seed oil from 1.1 million to 1.8 million tonnes. The increase in palm acreage in the country by about 1 lakh hectares annually over the next five years could boost palm oil output significantly from the current 2.8 lakh tonnes. The minor oilseeds are expected to yield half a million tonnes of oil,” Mehta said.
The prevailing Covid crisis has mainly impacted the palm oil consumption in the country, which is largely used in hotels, restaurants and sweetmeat shops, Chaturvedi said.
Fall in consumption
The palm oil imports could be lower by around 2-2.5 million tonnes on an annualised basis due to lower offtake.
The downward trend in consumption had started in January, even before the spread of coronavirus, when the prices went up due to higher duties and firm trend in international prices, Chaturvedi said.
While the consumption of palm oil has taken a hit, the off-take of soft oils such as mustard, soyabean and sunflower is witnessing an increase. “With people locked inside their houses, we see consumption of soft oils to be higher by 5-10 per cent this year,” Chaturvedi said. However, the overall consumption could be lower by 2-3 per cent compared to last year.
Published on May 07, 2020